James wrote, “If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
It is important to note that James, the head of the circumcision group, continued in the tradition of meeting in synagogues. This tradition died out with his group but was renewed in the third century when Constantine began to build “churches” (“Christianized” pagan temples made in the style of the Roman basilica government house) and the bench seat was instituted to keep all seats equal. (One of the early “church” splits was over whether there should be seating or not!) But these institutions and human traditions did nothing to change the human heart.
How many ways are there to be poor? One can be poor financially and this is a very visible, measurable kind of poverty. But the Bible also speaks of those who are poor in spirit who are the true recipients of the kingdom of God. One can also be poor in knowledge (one’s amount of Bible knowledge is considered an essential evaluation tool in most “churches”), poor in skills (communication, work, relationship, etc.) or poor in attitude (toward life, self, one another, etc.) All of these ways that we can be poor present the human heart with a place of opportunity where we can discriminate among ourselves and use evil thoughts to decide which of us are rich (superior) and which of us are poor (inferior). All this comparison with one another is mere foolishness in God’s economy and devolves into sinfulness quite readily.
In whatever way there is to be poor, there is a corresponding way to practice a presumed superiority over those we judge to be poor and inferior. Bible knowledge combined with personal charisma (the ability to draw followers after oneself) and power wielding (whether through authoritarian despotism or political consensus gathering, it is still power over the people), has become the currency given the greatest weight in most “churches.” The most eloquent, gifted “teacher” who can draw in a well-paying crowd and simultaneously keep the people under control is given the podium (“pulpit”) and the reins of the “church” organizational structure. Usually this man is called “Pastor.”
When you enter the “church” building, it is an unspoken law that you, being poorer in Bible knowledge and lacking any position of superiority in this particular organization, should take your place in a seat (“pew” in many “churches”). When you look straight ahead of you (looking past the backs of all the heads in the seats in front of you), you will find yourself pretty much on the same level as the “pastor’s” feet. In the New Testament, Peter, Paul, Barnabas and even an angel found themselves in similar positions – but these always and rather animatedly refused to let anyone place themselves at their feet. Today’s “pastor” needs a crowd at his feet several times a week to feed his desires for significance and no one finds anything wrong with this in any way. This fact alone should cause us to rethink everything that is done at “church” but this truth will probably be met with yawns of indifference.
If the “wrong guy” gets up there and blatantly and demandingly insists to the crowd, “Sit at my feet,” the result will be instant mutiny and the guy will be fortunate to escape with his life – and rightly so! But because the “pastor” has become perceived to be an expert in Bible knowledge (either through years of experience in teaching the words of the Bible or by going to some seminary Bible school), because he exudes that “aura of infallibility” (which the people expect and insist to see in him) and because he routinely manages to keep himself in the alpha-prime spot that gives him the rights to stand over the people from behind the pulpit, because of all these deceptive facades, the crowd continues to sit at his feet, drooling and panting for more stories, fables, anecdotes, jokes – “sermons” that are completely devoid of any sound, wise, solid teachings about life built only on obedience to God’s personal gifting and leading.
The “church” is very much like a 3D movie - the viewers require 3D glasses to see things in a “three dimensional” perspective (which is, in truth, a deceptive trick played on the eyes of the viewers). Anyone who does not have the glasses sees the distortions that are covered over by the colored lenses and the movie quickly becomes very hard to watch. So too anyone who knows the deceptions behind the “church” and having everyone sit at the “pastor’s” feet and who comes into such a setting. Immediately such a one recognizes the extent to which a particular organization buys into the demonically deceptive “church” paradigm.
Until the “pastor” steps away from the position he holds above the people – a place that belongs truly and only to Christ and God – the people will never know they’re being kept as slaves. Even when the “pastor” steps away from this position, the slaves are much more likely to insist on remaining slaves than they are going to be willing to learn to work and conduct warfare and persevere in their own life and walk with God so as to truly be saved. But when the “pastor,” along with whoever else will obey God, humbly and contritely follows the Spirit of God through the minefield they’ve gotten themselves into, the result is a new wineskin that will bring forth the kingdom of God and the body of Christ into their particular time and sphere of influence.
When we all refuse to sit at anyone’s feet (except the feet of the Master Himself, of course) and we all begin to stand next to one another and fight against our common foes (the darkness of the devil, the demonic, this world and our flesh nature), we will begin to see the forces of darkness retreat and recede. Since this is the age of lawlessness (doing what is right in one’s own eyes) and deception, we ought not be surprised if only a tiny handful remnant is all who will take up their cross, follow after the Master and rise up to shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The vast majority will continue to present themselves at the feet of their favorite teacher to have their ears stroked, scratched, soothed and stimulated – for which they will continue to gladly pay their club dues (“tithes” and “offerings”) and defend to the death (others, that is, not their own) their right to, in the name of Christ and God, do whatever is right in their own eyes. This is the day of the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith, that comes just before Christ’s return.
Let he who has ears hear.
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