One Body Many Members

The body does not consist of one member but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:14


An elder in a small congregation once told me that they had had only two pastors since the founding of their church. “In between the two tenures”, he said,” we had no one to lead us. And so, for quite some time, we did everything ourselves: The preaching, the visitation, everything.” He then paused and muttered: “That was the only time that this church did well.”

At the time I thought that the congregation must have had some bad luck with their two ministers and experienced some exceptional grace from God during the period that they were without one. This, of course, is quite possible. But I am more inclined to think nowadays that the little church had inadvertently stumbled upon one of the greatest and most neglected truths of the Bible, namely that the ministry of Jesus Christ takes place through a body and not through one extraordinary individual.

In one of Jesus’ most ignored statements Christian leaders are expressly forbidden to let people address them by using titles. The reason? Jesus alone is our Rabbi and Master (Matthew 23:8-10). Bestowing a special title on a Christian leader is a case of mistaken authority. The result is that we open ourselves to be led by the teachings of humans instead of the teachings of Christ. Furthermore, Christian ministry then looks like a profession instead of a lifestyle.

This does not mean that your hardworking minister is insignificant or not worthy of support. On the contrary. What it does mean, according to Jesus, is that he is but one of many brothers. And so all the other brothers and sisters are called to unite with him, under Christ, to express the will of their one Master.

(Bloemnuus 29 May 2010)