In the view of many brothers and sisters in the Lord, the pastors and elders are familiar with theand able to explain it and work hard to support the church, so they think all that the pastors and elders say is right and we should listen and obey. Does this type of practice truly conform to ? After seeking the truth for a period of time and fellowshiping with my brothers and sisters, I got some new understanding about this aspect of the truth. Next, I will share it with you.
1. We Cannot Blindly Revere and Admire the Pastors and Elders but Should Honor the Lord as Great and Only Obey the Lord and the Truth
During the Age of Law, God admonished us, “Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). From God’s words, we can know that God is the only One that is worthy of our reliance and admiration. We should fear and obey God, seek out His intentions in all matters and let Him reign in our heart in order to abide by His will. However, in our normal church life, frequently listening to the pastors and elders expounding the knowledge of the Bible and theological theories, we look up to them. And their status in our hearts even surpasses that of God. Therefore, when encountering difficulties or important events, we first think of consulting the pastors and elders and let people make the decision for us. And regardless of whether what they say accords with the truth and God’s will, we will absolutely listen and obey. In the Ten Commandments God said: “You shall have none other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:7). From God’s words, we can definitely understand that in our faith in God, at all times we should honor God as great and keep only Him in our hearts. The pastors and elders just are men that were corrupted by Satan and they don’t possess the truth. Even if they have good qualities and gifts and can explain the knowledge of the Bible and theological theories very well, we cannot adore or look up to them. We all know God is holy and righteous and He hates evil, and that His righteous disposition is unoffendable by men. If we regard the pastors and elders as equal to God, it is blasphemy against God. So, we cannot blindly adore, admire, listen to or obey the pastors and elders. Instead, we should honor God as great at any time, and seek out His will and practice according to the principles of the truth when something befalls us. It is such practice that is in line with God’s intentions.
2. We Should Discern Whether the Pastors and the Elders Exalt and Bear Testimony to God in Everything and Bring People Before Him
Thesaid: “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing. Of a truth I say to you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delays his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looks not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:42-46). From the words of the Lord, we can know faithful and wise servants are those who are considerate of God’s will and take responsibility for the lives of their brothers and sisters. They exalt and bear testimony to God in everything; they use their understanding of the truth to water and supply their brothers and sisters and resolve their various difficulties in entering into life; they bring their brothers and sisters before God so that they can be able to live out God’s demands, grow up in life and can obey, fear and love God. Only such servants are after God’s heart and can attain His approval.
In the preaching of the pastors and elders, if they often boast and always speak of some knowledge of the Bible and theological theories, if they frequently talk about how they work hard and suffer and pay the price for people to admire and look up to them but never speak about the way of practice in entering into life or how they experience God’s word, then their preaching can only bring people before themselves and make people only have their status within. What’s more, some of them stand their ground to chide and suppress people, follow the trends of the world and even steal sacrifices. All that they say and do can harm and ruin true believers in God. Such people are the evil servants that God will punish. Just like the hypocritical Pharisees, they had a strong knowledge of the Bible and frequently expounded the Bible to people. But everything they did was to exalt and bear witness to themselves and deceive the people of Israel so that those people kept only the Pharisees in their hearts and listened to the Pharisees in all things. Today, for the pastors and elders, we should learn to discern whether their deeds are to exalt and bear testimony to God. If their work and preaching are to bring people before themselves and make people admire and look up to them, they are running in the opposite direction to God. Then we should stay away from and reject them. Only this kind of practice conforms to the will of the Lord.
3. If the Deeds of the Pastors and Elders Are Not in Line With the Lord’s Teachings, We Should Hold to the Lord’s Way and Protect the Church’s Interests
After being corrupted by Satan, we humans are full of corrupt disposition and often involuntarily do things that resist God. If we find the pastors and elders have done things that are in violation of the truth, we should point them out. For example, sometimes, we see some pastors and elders discipline and suppress the brothers and sisters at will, and that some even have jealous disputes with their co-workers, form cliques, steal the sacrifices and split the church, and so on. At this time, we should stand on the side of God and uphold justice and expose them to protect the interests of the church. Only this accords with the will of the Lord. If we are restrained by their power and status, and dare not point out their wrong deeds but turn a blind eye, then we are acting like “yes-man.” Such practice is selfish and contemptible rather than considerate of God’s heart. And we will lose the likeness of a Christian and we cannot bear testimony to and glory God but shame Him. The Lord Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). From the words of the Lord, we know that God loves those honest people who truly love Him and practice the truth. So, in treating the pastors and elders, we should first see whether the deeds of the pastors and elders are in line with the Lord’s teachings. If their words are in accordance with the truth, we should accept them. If their words are not in line with the truth and in violation of the Lord’s teachings, no matter how high their status is, we should uphold justice and stand on the side of God and point them out without fear of their power to protect the interests of the church. Only such practice is compatible with God and can be approved by Him. If we all practice like this, then we will be certain to receive God’s care and blessings.
These are the three paths of practice to treat the pastors and elders. If we can grasp and apply them, we will know how to treat the pastors and elders in line with God’s heart and walk on the path of fearing God and shunning evil.