This is another one of those email exchanges, that I felt would also be of interest to many others… Someone has either swallowed or is about to swallow the red pill! They wanted to know if I could help!
OK, I am in trouble. I discovered you and read two of you books and started the 3rd just this week. Oh, how your writings resonate with something deep inside of me. I know what your saying is true—I just know it intuitively. My wife and I are weary of the institutional system of doing church. We so want to separate ourselves. We are tired of the professional class and lay separation, the need for enormous amounts of money to keep the machine operating with the appeal to tithe, trying to reconcile law and grace…
Our story is long and tangled, but the short of it is that I am running into resistance from leadership which I sense will be escalating, using the tactics that you are so very familiar with. I have already been ask, “how do you interpret the scriptures that tell us that we should submit to leadership and our “covering?”
Please help us get beyond this initial hurdle—it is a big one. Thank you, my new found friend and brother.
Thanks for writing. I certainly hear your heart and am grateful for the journey you’re on, even if it may get painful in days ahead. It sounds like you’re moving from the disillusionment of religion, into the reality of real relationship with him. I’d like to tell you that’s all glorious, and it will be in the end, but the process can be a bit disorienting and painful. That’s why many talk of it as ‘de-toxing’, because there is a bit of withdrawal involved from our dependence on religion. And, there’s the reaction of others that won’t understand what he’s doing in you and will make harsh judgments about you.
First, let me encourage you to take a deep breath and slow down. If this is all fairly new to you, you are probably far more ready to react than you are to simply respond to him. You don’t have to be in a hurry here. Let your desires draw you closer to him so that he becomes more real to you than those you fear. So many who first see these things react by attacking the ‘system’ or the ‘institution’, before they even understand how Father wants to work in them. They want everyone else to understand their new insights, and end up like the proverbial bull in the china shop, upsetting things God doesn’t want upset. If he asks you to leave, leave. Don’t try to drag others along. Don’t make a final stand affirming that you have the truth and they are all in error. Just, go quietly and let him lead you on. If he has others he wants you to talk to, he’ll arrange that.
How do you do this? One step at a time. Each day wake up and ask Father what he has for you, and follow him as best you see him. Walk in the integrity of your conscience, with humility and graciousness to everyone you meet. Always doing what is in your heart to do and take on whatever consequences result, whether it be the angry accusations of others, or the guilt for not doing what others expect of you. It is often those very consequences that show us next steps and open doors to what God has for us in days to come. But, yes, they are painful too!
Yes, people will try to get you back in line by claiming that Scripture teaches us to submit to our covering. Simply ask them where? The only covering in Scripture, that I know about other than the head-covering for women is the fig leaves in Genesis. I’m not sure covering there as a positive thing. They were trying to hide from God and each other, remember. Who needs a covering from God when we have all been washed in his forgiveness. We can boldly come before him now without any need for covering. But, there is no way to scripturally convince people there isn’t a call for covering who are convinced there is. Leadership is never viewed as a covering in the New Testament, and leadership ‘over’ was forbidden by Jesus to his followers in Mark 10:42-45. The only passage people point to is Hebrews 13 about submitting to our leaders, and which King Jimmy translated as to ‘those who are over you in the Lord.’ But that is not the correct translation or interpretation of this passage. The translators added it to embellish ‘church’ authority. This passage is simply about yielding to those who stand before you in the Lord and keep watch for you. That’s brothers and sisters who have your bests interests at heart, not obeying the systems managers of religious institutions.
The overwhelming weight of NT Scriptures talks about each one of us having an anointing to know truth and error, of not needing anyone to teach us, for all will know him. The glory of the new covenant is that we all get to know him and that Jesus makes himself known to each individual surrendered to him, not through any kind of leadership hierarchy. I know some worry that will lead to anarchy, but folks who are growing in relationship to Jesus and his Father will know how to treat others with love and know how to work with each other when he calls them together. But don’t expect those who have a vested interest in the power or money of authority positions to affirm that, and free people to live in it. It just doesn’t happen until God opens their eyes.
I’d just encourage you to walk graciously in the light God has given. Love people but never compromise your conscience to go along. Folks will not understand that and say horrible things about you to marginalize your life from ‘infecting others’, which is exactly how Jesus said they would treat us in Matthew 5 at the end of his blessed-are-you statements. So just keep following him. As graciously as you can explain to those who ask what you see God teaching you, but never try to convince them. By trying to, you’ll only make them defensive and push them deeper into the cave in which the are already hiding… And that just won’t be helpful.
In it all you will learn to depend on him in the rich joy of a love relationship, and that will carry you on to incredible expressions of life in him and body life with other believers, that you cannot even conceive at this point in the journey.