Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Democratic Church needs a Coup D'etat

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes... (emboldened emphasis mine).

Y'all know where that comes from, right? That's the opening of the Declaration of Independence. Many colonial Americans were angry with Mama Great Britain. King George was waging war and imperialism all over the world and he was doing what every ambitious monarch had done before him, he was taxing (straining) his realm to pay for his ambition. Parliament was in agreement, so they were making laws and statutes that accomplished the king's ends. 

The main thing dissenting colonials were offended in was they were taxed without representation. In other words, there were no colonial representatives in the British power structure (Parliament). Early Americans wanted a relationship with Great Britain, but not at the expense of not being able to add their two-cents into the discussion.

They wanted a voice and a vote. It required rebellion and war for them to get it. Have you ever thought about that? They had to find a way to justify their actions before a watching world, so they said "when it becomes necessary..." Now, we Americans LOVE to vote. We treasure the process and even elevate its importance to national activity which culminates in "Super Tuesday" twice a year. We love to vote! Goodness gracious, the more riled up some candidate or policy makes us, the more of  us get out the vote.

All that is an introduction. Be nervous. It's become necessary that a new rebellion occur. Our power structure is ignoring a very important Voice.

There is MUCH to be said here, but let me start with ONE LITTLE THING: voting in the church.

Really, where did we get such an idea? I can't find a single instance in the Old Testament where the nation of Israel voted toward a positive result, nor can I can find a New Testament church voted. Now, if I'm wrong, okay; I apologize. However, you're going to have to show me. Let me be quick to say that voting is a good tool in a pluralistic society, where many do not place themselves under the rule of God. However, in the church, it's not good, nor is it biblical.

Voting is something most churches hold sacred. Sure, some are run by dictatorial boards or pastors, but even prayer circles, ministry groups, fellowship groups and activity groups vote on this, that or the other on a regular basis. (It usually sounds like, "We decided....")

There are a lot of problems with voting to make decisions in the Body of Christ. Unless it's a 100% vote, someone always walks away feeling like they lost to other people, and, typically, that means someone walks away angry and offended. Secondly, it leaves people room to bully, lobby, practice nepotism, politic, curry undue favor and practice partiality.

The whole process, in a church, typically mirrors the democratic republic process we use in United States politics. We lobby and discuss and banter stats and facts to support our opinion and also carefully and diligently point out our perception of faults in our "opponents" and then urge people to "vote smart." We all know it's hard to see through all that male-bovine-waste. Is it even smart to listen to twisted information to start with? (DEMAND THE TRUTH, but's that a story for another blog post.)

I can chase this rabbit for a long time, but the point is simple, voting is not biblical, and, for the people of God, it's not even wise.

So, that begs the question: WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL WAY TO MAKE DECISIONS? 

I got it. I know. 
You know how I do this, right? I looked in the word. The answer is simple as all get out: WE CAST LOTS! (NOTE: this is not the lottery. Don't start tripping!)

Here's one of many examples:
Acts 1:23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (emboldened emphasis mine;, ESV).
Here are many more examples:

What's the deal with casting lots? Let's unfold it just a bit. In the cited case, as you probably know well, Judas Iscariot was out of the circle of the Apostles. He was to be replaced. There were some requirements (ref. Acts 2:21-22). There were a limited number of dudes who fit the bill, so they put those two guys names out there and cast lots. In other words, in a very simple definition, they pulled a name out of the hat. What?!?!?! 

Am I advocating (so-called) luck? Nope. I am advocating Providence. Let God decide. Sure, people can rig things like this, but IF we don't, Providence can choose. Then, we're not left to "swallow" the decision that people made. Rather, we're left to "swallow" what God is doing. We can fight men and we can assert our wit and will and we can try to turn things around. We can fight God too, but we will lose. Such a time as this is when we might find ourselves working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Say we don't like God's decision, okay...we'll have to sweat and bleed in prayer and seeking His face until we are reconciled to His will again.

There is no where in the revealed will of God where democracy among His people is advocated or propagated toward any productive end. When we use our logic we often defy the will and way of God.

I am always asking myself the following question: What would it look like if the Holy Spirit ran the church? 

Here is one small step towards that end. We NEED God to take the "power" and "decision making" out of our hands. We NEED God to be boss again. We NEED to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. We NEED to acknowledge Him in all our ways and allow Him to direct our paths.

We were endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights and one we need to reassert is His rule in our lives and in our churches. We do NOT need the consent of the governed. We need the direction and power of God. It is the right of God to overthrow our unjust church government!

Granted, this is the tip of the iceberg, but I believe I am floating on the right one! We don't need a voice so much as we need His. 

I KNOW this much is true: IF we don't turn the church back over to God, He WILL take it back. He WILL remove the lampstand of a local church. There is much that may need to be surrendered for a local body to give themselves back over to God, but here is a positive first step; stop voting and start letting God decide.

Our Declaration says that government should not be overthrown for "light and transient causes." The same could be said of the church. However, regarding who we are allowing to govern us as believers is NOT a light and transient cause; it's major.

I pray God take us over if we won't give ourselves over.


Cristina said...

so what does this look like practically?

twbowes said...

I think ONE really practical way a group of believers can put something like this into effect immediate is financial situation. Let's say they have a limited amount of funds...let's make it $1,000.00 and there are 5 seemingly good causes that could use those funds. If we leave it to human logic alone, the group that has the most fans or the best presentation could "win" the battle of voting those funds' destination. Or, it could be split 5 ways equally. Or, they could banter about who's effective and who deserves what percentage or this or that and so on and so on. OR, they could put the names in a sack and let God choose and draw one out and give the funds to that one. Assuming the things isn't rigged, it's about as "fair" as it could be AND, most importantly, Providence has spoken and dissenters are left to deal with Him and not people who they disagreed with.

Make sense?

Cristina said...

yes. so...what about big life decisions like what your calling in life is? i'm sort of joking :), but sort of not. i mean, is this applicable to that---should i throw some in a hat and see which one comes out? trying to figure out how this plays out in life.

twbowes said...

it could be used in that situation, for sure, but I think rather we seek the Lord and seek wisdom. I'll give you an example of a time when the Church made a decision without voting and without casting lots. They used reason and the Holy Spirit. It was Acts 15.

Our calling in life will be revealed to us, but only as we are faithful and active in the things of general and biblical revelation. If we are active in ministry in front of us that God has already said to do, then, in the process of faithfulness, more will be entrusted to us. We don't need to cast lots.

I talked to a pastor the other day who hasn't pastored a church in something like 10 years, but has looked for one the whole time. I asked him has he been a pastor in the church he's in. He said no, because they had a pastor. I tried to encourage to BE a pastor if God called him to be a pastor, because if he was faithful in that work without being paid for that work, then God would increase his work.

Make sense?

This blog is really about these situations. It's about decisions that are neither evil or unwise. We vote on too many things that are already God's will. We vote on too many things that we have exercised no wisdom in. We often argue about things that are equally valid.

It's about letting God be in charge.

We wouldn't need to cast lots to determine if God wants us to rob a bank or rob a store. Both are wrong. We wouldn't need to cast lots (or vote for that matter) on whether we should go to a strip club for a Sunday School fellowship outing or have a cookout. The Law and wisdom has already voted!

There is not a lot in in everyday life where casting lots is very spiritual, but there's a lot where it's helpful. We sat down the other night as a family and wanted to play games. Who picks? Who picks first? Blah blah blah. We put the game names in a hat and pulled them out one at a time. Good times.