Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 4

1.) H O R I Z O N T A L

2.) V

Horizontal leadership is going on ahead, following the captain of our salvation, out in front of the flock, leading or guiding, not driving them from behind. Vertical leadership is one person presiding over another. The very word over creates a mental picture of one above, and another beneath. One involves climbing up the ecclesiastical ladder of success, while the other is simply following on to know the Lord and assisting others along the way. Jesus gave us the first and only model of horizontal leadership. It was so radical in comparison to the vertical that without divine help the disciples could not imagine such a thing. The vertical, pecking-order model of leadership has no place in the Christian community. Referring to this vertical model, Jesus said; "But you shall not be so…"

"And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest (meizon) among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief (hegeomai), as he that doth serve (diakoneo). For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth (diakoneo)." (Luke 22: 24-27)

The Greek word meizon here translated greatest simply means older, or senior. Those who have gone ahead in age have usually gone ahead in experience, and so have much to teach. Here Jesus is contrasting the relational and social guidance of elderly family members to the kings of the Gentiles who exercised lordship over. He even takes it one step further in saying that the elderly of the family should willingly become as the younger, that they should become servants. So not only were they not to be like the kings of the Gentiles but they were also not to posture themselves as heads of the family. They were to be as the youth, or servants in the family.

So in answering the strife of which one of them would be the greatest, Jesus brought the disciples two giant steps down. He reduced them from kings, to elders, and from elders to household servants. Consider what that must have done to their egos!

Hear us dear reader! Jesus said, "It shall not be so among you." This is an emphatic statement in the Greek. "It cannot be so among you!" What is the Father’s norm for his family? What shall be so among us?

John Wesley gives us our answer.

"But ye are to be benefactors to mankind, not by governing, but by serving."

Here are a few scriptures for your perusal. You be the judge. Did Jesus endorse the vertical hierarchical model of leadership or the horizontal form?

Then he said to them, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest." (Luke 9:48, The New Living Translation)
Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 11:4, The New Living Translation)
Don't ever let anyone call you 'Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. And don't let anyone call you 'Master,' for there is only one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:8-12, The New Living Translation)

Also consider the following quotation.

"Of how little avail has this condemnation of "lordship" and vain titles been against the vanity of Christian ecclesiastics?" (Author unknown)

Love's Gentle Persuasion or Forced Orthodoxy

In our society, we incarcerate parents who use their children as objects for sexual gratification, serving themselves at the child’s emotional and physical expense. In the institution called the church (note: we do not refer to the body of Christ here) a similar condition exists. The abuses are much more subtle, but equally painful. The heart is ravished, not the body. The predators who continue to inflict untold pain upon God's Children are not locked up but praised and esteemed instead. I (George) have stood beside the victims; I have witnessed their tears. I heard them say, "I feel like I’ve been raped!" How else should they have felt? They had been violated. They were expected to perform without being truly loved. They had become the playthings of ambitious overlords, who cast them off when they failed to perform up to expectations.

Even God himself will not violate the wills of men. He is set to win them by love. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son…" This shows the depth of God's commitment and love toward us. Jesus laid down his life as the evident token of that love. Upon this backdrop, how is it that men, purporting to be leaders in Christ's church, should do spite to the very Spirit of Christ by resorting to tyrannical means to secure obedience? In an attempt to police a forced orthodoxy, they violate the very sanctum that God has made off-limits to all but love’s persuasion. Obedience for any other reason than love is unacceptable to God. God beckons, He woos, but He does not force. Forced obedience is something akin to rape, - entering or thrusting oneself upon another without invitation. Imposing one’s will and desires upon the unwilling is our definition of tyranny. It is also the definition of rape.

We find a prime example of forced orthodoxy in 3 John 1:9-10. A man by the name of Diotrephes sought to impose himself and his will upon the Body of Christ, seeking the preeminence that only rightly belongs to Christ – the One True Head of the body. John wrote:

"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church."

Here we have the first sign of apostasy. A man raised himself up, desiring the preeminence, casting brothers who did not go along with his overt grab for power out of the church. This sounds like the first denomination to us. John wrote something to the congregation, not to a select team of leaders but to all of the ekklesia, but the one desiring to be first intercepted it. I am sure as John was writing this, the words of Jesus were echoing through his mind, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

Even Jesus Himself does not use this kind of control over His church! In John chapter ten we see His opened handed kind of leadership.

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:9-10, NKJV).

Did you get that? Jesus is a door! Doors not only let people in, but let them out as well. "…and [they]will go in and out and find pasture." Jesus came to set the captives free and to break every yoke of slavery. Contrast that with the following verse, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." There is nothing here about giving or creating life, but rather exerting overt and illicit power. The way of the thief is bondage and death.

How often have you heard it preached from the pulpit that you were not to go elsewhere to be fed, but you were to stay put for your own good? We have heard it many times. This sectarian spirit is not the Spirit of Christ, who is so confident in the liberty He gives HIS sheep that He readily leaves the 99 and seeks out the one that goes too far astray.

True leadership in His kingdom is very open handed. His sheep are completely confident that no one shall pluck them out of His hand. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a wonderful example of a father who not only allows his son to leave, but gives him his inheritance when he asks for it. He knows that holding the son captive against his will is the sure way to lose him. He believes that once the son has seen the final fruit of his rebellion, he will come back to the one who truly loves him. Anyone who does not truly love Jesus' sheep does not have this kind of confidence. Do you want to see a body grow? Love builds up.

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." (Ephesians 4:15-16, RSV).

What is this Thing Called "the church"?

Note at the outset that there is no biblical justification for the institutionalized version of Christianity that now covers the globe. In fact, there is no pattern in the scripture for setting up a church institution of any kind.

The model for the current church is a mixture borrowed from the governmental style of the kings of the Gentiles and the corporate structures of today's business world. It provides the mechanism for controlling the people and keeping them submissive to the institution and its clergy/kings/CEO's. Today, the church infrastructure provides these benefactors with employment and power. They are paid for their services just like the employees of any other business or organization. With one exception: they often set their own salaries. This is what T. Austin Sparks called "the present disorder."

We should note here that Paul referred to these rudimentary principles of religion as "the world."

"But far be it from me to boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom [the] world is crucified to me, and I to the world. For [in Christ Jesus] neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation." (Galatians 6:14-15)

The word world here is a translation of a Greek word kosmos, which means a system. In context, Paul was speaking of the religious system at that time. We are not being trite when we say, Christianity is not a system, it is not of the kosmos/world. Christianity is a person and that person is Christ! Although Judaism and the law originated with God, in the hands of the enemy it became a system used to usurp and distract mankind from God's eternal purpose in Christ and was even used to crucify the very Offspring of God Himself. The same is true of the Christian system where the fruit of living union with Christ, the Vine, has been supplanted by a codified and systematized "Christianity." This is the sad world to which all true believers are dead. For they are not preoccupied with principles or Christian ethics but are new creations living by the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Hence the true church is a living organism, not an institution or system. It is not of this Kosmos.

Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 4

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