A Possession to Protect

To help prepare us for a series of meetings with Joe Humrichous in October, I am sharing articles written by Joe and originally posted at paradigm1.og

There are times when defense becomes the best offense. And if Jesus is going to be the Lead pastor, we under shepherds must diligently protect His blood-bought purchase of the church.

Only One may have preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18). Many a church has felt the wrenching heartache, division, and yes, even death caused by misplaced ownership. Pastors are shepherds not CEOs. Deacons are servants not shareholders. Congregations are sheep not mobs that rule. Even strong and faithful families who have weathered the storms of a local body for a long time can assume some ownership that is not theirs. Denominational real estate can also become a point of pride and can usurp ownership from Jesus. Sacrifice and service is never an entitlement to ownership.

While the enemy is always aggressive and strategically attempting to infiltrate a congregation from without, most of the wolves come from within.

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:29-30)

Sadly, our hearts have a tendency to love preeminence like Diotrephes (III John 9) and we become discontented servants. As we begin to talk nonsense in private counsels and public meetings, Jesus is grieved and begins to withdraw His hand and turn His face away. Another candlestick is removed.

The opposite is true of a local church that respects, guards, and stewards Christ’s ownership. When we take heed and are vigilant about these matters, Jesus is free to advance His life and power and express His love amid joy throughout the congregation. This puts His life on display which in turn transforms saints and sinners for His glory. If we keep our hands on the plow but off the merchandise, we will have His best.