Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Whence comes our leaders? Part IV

Acts/John

I would like to take a quick look at two verses found in the books mentioned in the heading - for our topic, the verses are decisive ones that dwell on parallel themes. These verses are Acts 4:13 and John 7:15.

Acts 4:13 "And observing the
boldness of Peter and John,
and perceiving that they were
unscholarly men even laymen,
they marvelled and recognized
them as having been with Jesus."

John 7:15 "Therefore, the Jews

marvelled saying, "How has this
man become scholarly, not
having studied?"

[My Translations]

There can be no more decisive claim than these verses to demonstrate the time honored wisdom in the saying 'like-teacher-like-student'. What Jesus had promised had come to pass. The disciples had "become like their master." As with Jesus at his baptism, so also with them at Pentecost. The Spirit had fallen and that was decisive. What they had become no longer had its nexus on earth. They had been recreated from above.

The term 'boldness' as used in Acts is Luke's signature term for the Spirit's work. When disciples are filled with this newly poured out Spirit, they obtain a power and wisdom that explodes in boldness. This type of Spirit-induced preaching and activity would be repeated many times throughout Luke's history of early Christianity.

Observing the manner in which these men preached, the Jewish leaders were drawn to make the connection between them and the supposedly deceased Jesus. From the text, the only literary connection we are told of is this 'boldness'. Here is the nexus from which both Jesus and the Apostles are born. It is sufficient to become learned, it is sufficient to become wise - beyond one's detractors.

That Luke here is trying to emphasis the unsurpassable work of the Spirit in the disciples cannot be disputed. His entire book has the hegemony of the Spirit as its running theme.

More important for us are the lessons to be learned:

First, what had happened in Jesus' life was not something that was to remain peculiar to Him. His disciples had now also crossed over to a new realm of existence, a world in which all things had become new, a world independant of the earthly realm for its power and wisdom. They had moved from being participants in the world to being its judges.

Second, that this new mode of existence was just what God had intended to make the world stand up and take notice. Something had happened to these men that could not be explained by the presence of any earthly institution. As such it judged all the vaporous endeavors of men.

Third, a paradigm had been established. A paradigm that was intended to move through history recreating all in its path. From this point on, anyone who called on the name of the Lord was to be afforded this divine life. They need only trust and obey.

For those who would argue that if we left the church up to ordinary unschooled churchmen we would have a congregation of yokels, Luke and John would say, "Oh, ye of little faith!" Our biblical writers assume that the Spirit is fully capable of forming Christ's Church. Perhaps this could be the problem. Maybe it is not Christ's church that men want.

I would submit that the tendancy to have yokels fill the pulpit in so many of our "country" churches is because of the fraudulent model that has been handed down to them by the so-called great churches. The country
preacher is often just a countrified interpretation of the vacuous dullards littered throughout their big city models. These country innocents know nothing of the power of the Spirit and of how the Church is to work in the new age thanks in particular to the unbiblical example around them. They are simply matching their spiritless understanding of the Word with the stifling world-conforming format of a withered Christendom.

If we are honest, we would have to say that the lack of wisdom has more to do with the general neglect of the Wisdom/Spirit culture originally bequeathed to us by Jesus.

But the real question is: How has this come about? The answer is a hard one. But by this I do not mean intellectually hard. It is humiliatingly hard, for our problem stems from desiring the respect of the world. I challenge any reader to go through the gospels and see if this is not the reason that Jesus gives for the failure of people to follow Him, in particular, the 'churchmen' of His day. As followers of Christ, we cannot seek both Christ's and the world's praise . If we want all to "think well of us" than we must forget the plan of God. Its that simple.

Conclusion
The idea of the gifted body growing in wisdom has eluded the poor country church as well as the rich city cathedral. Although to be fair to the country churches - judging from the viewpoint of spiritual health - I would say that they are doing far better than their city counterparts who are drowning in their modern secular agendas and cultural compromises. The country Christian, on the other hand, still focuses on simple things like being a good neighbor. Christ is sure to honor them for this. I would suggest that their better health is largely due to their distance from the seminary.

Amen


JB



2 Comments:

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10:57 PM  
Anonymous Jaime said...

Looking forward to the rest of this series.

3:47 AM  

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