What the Jesus Freaks Got Right
I’m still waiting for it – the church marquee that says:
Senior Pastor: Jesus Christ
I could not think of anything greater than to be part of a fellowship of believers where Jesus Himself is intentionally given charge to lead His church, where all bow before Him whether pastor or deacon or so-called layperson. Paul insists that Christ must receive the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18). Toward Him all must move.
Last week in our theology class I surveyed the main Scriptures having to do with authority in the church. I feel there are so many things in our churches that are inconsistent with Paul’s pronouncement that Christ is first and that everything must enhance His preeminence. How is it, I asked, that no one can name the “pastor” of any New Testament church? The answer is precisely because their first priority was Christ. The leadership they had was a “fellowship of leadership” (Michael Green) – a group of co-equal, non-hierarchical leaders who sought to steer their flocks’ energies into loving God, loving others, and loving the world.
It is essential that Jesus Christ be dynamically first in the life of our churches. When He is at the center – leading, empowering, directing, rearranging – our churches will no longer be pastor- or program-centered. To let a man or a method become too important is not only carnal, it’s idolatrous. It is an affront to Jesus Christ, who is the church’s only Senior Pastor.
I can remember my Jesus Freak days in Hawaii. Despite all of our eccentricities, I loved the fact that we were always talking about Jesus. First came Christ – not an institution. Then came one another – in Christ. Then came the world – for whom Christ died. These three commitments were not the result of seminary training. No, we were a bunch of establishment misfits. But the lordship of Christ was taken with total seriousness. We read verses like Col. 1:18 and were blown away – Jesus Christ at the center, in front, at the top, and beneath everything. Away with ecclesiastical traditions! Out with Madison Avenue approaches to church leadership! We scoffed at pastors who thought of themselves as modern-day Luthers or Calvins, blindly following some silly new book on leadership that 5 years later would be discarded. (I told you we were eccentric!)
I’m not saying that we were always right. We weren’t. Our theology was muddled in many areas. But we did love Jesus. We sought to serve and obey and enjoy the One who alone was worthy of our focus and worship and attention and obedience. Our church life revolved around Him – not a pastor or a pulpit or a program or a personality.
Friends, making Jesus number 1 is what it’s all about. Isn’t it about time we got back to the Bible’s way of moving people toward Christ rather than ourselves?
Senior Pastor: Jesus Christ
I’m still waiting….
October 25, 2009
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.