How difficult is it when a friend or neighbor is elevated above us? Yet, if we want God’s blessings showered upon us, we must overcome the jealousy.
I want us to understand that God can use anyone, even our closest friends to lead us.
We will first look at the tendency to cut others down, honoring local prophets, women pastors, honoring God in his leaders, missing God’s blessing by rejecting God’s prophets and dealing with rejection.
Cutting Others Down to Size
Why do we do it? When others are elevated we seek to cut them down to size. Such is also the fate of the prophet in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13). It takes a big man and generous woman to honor a friend who is promoted. Most of us react by belittling them and finding reason why the promotion was not deserved. All the Hollywood schmoozing aside, that’s not life’s reality. The truth is that most people are jealous. We covet their successes and secretly undermine them in conversation. We find honor to be such a rare commodity that we offer it to strangers more readily than neighbors and friends. Perhaps that is why Peter had to encourage churches to honor all (1 Peter 2:17). Honor is in reality not a limited commodity. It can be spread to all.
Honoring a Local Prophet
Why do locals not support a prophet who is one of their own (Mark 6:1-13)? There may be two connected reasons. When Jesus went to his hometown to teach and perform mighty works many were offended at him and Jesus also marveled at their lack of faith. We are no different. Why is it that when a local person is used by God, we lack faith? Perhaps we are offended that God would promote one of us. Perhaps we are offended that God chose someone other than us. Can we overcome this tendency? Jesus did lay hand on a few locals and heal them. Can we be one of the few who believe? We can if we realize ahead of time that God can and does use “one of us” and be prepared to show that person our full support.
Honoring Women Pastors
Ought we honor a woman pastor? Paul enumerated qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 not as law excluding women, nor to call women leaders sinners. Even conservative theology teaches that we are under grace not law. But, we hypocritically turn historically and culturally bound case-studies into law. Yet, the only law of Christ is love. Even under the Old Testament law, a woman could be a judge and a prophetess. The quote that this was so because “there was no man in Israel” is from the Talmud not the Bible. The New Testament brings freedom not harsher, even more-enslaving law (Galatians 4:5, 25, 5:1-3). If a woman believes that she is called by God to spiritual leadership, let us not be like the people of Jesus’ hometown (Mark 6:1-13). Let us honor and support her.
Honoring God in His Leaders
When Jesus was dishonored in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13), people pointed to their intimate knowledge of his family. Jesus never sinned, but the rest of his family surely did. Some of this was known in the community. Over the years I have heard many stories of local people who became church leaders. We locals love to say that we remember when... What do we remember? We remember when so and so did something stupid, immature or otherwise embarrassing. It is our way of dishonoring the prophet in our midst. Perhaps we do so because we don’t believe that God could use somebody just like us for pastoral ministry. We place pastors on an impossible pedestal but that is not reality. We honor God’s pastors not because they are perfect. They are not. We honor them because we honor God.
What a Shame to Miss Out
Because Jesus was dishonored in his hometown (Mark 6:1-13) he did not do many powerful things, not many mighty works there. That is the meaning in the original language. Those dynamic deeds would have included healing lives and conquering the evil one. What a shame to miss out because the one through whom we could have experienced a substantial miracle was a close, personal friend or neighbor. We allow the humanity of church leaders to be a stumbling block. So many pastors hide behind titles and collars and robes to try and overcome our weaknesses, but such barriers only last so long. Eventually, we see through the external trappings to the weak humanity of our spiritual leaders. When we do, do we also still see God and allow him to use them mightily? What a shame to miss out!
Reactions to Rejection
What do we do when we face rejection (Mark 6:1-13)? We could pout, get depressed, pray or gossip about how hard done by we were. Jesus gave none of that as advice to the disciples. He told them to shake the dust off their feet. Any door-to-door or cold-calling is a difficult job. Those who are experienced at it know that it is just a numbers game. A “no” is a good thing to those with a positive mental attitude. They know they don’t need to waste anymore time, but just get on to the next place. If a salesperson is involved with a product that they are genuinely proud of and not just chasing a commission-check, then they are not ashamed of rejection. Those who preach the Gospel know that there is no better message to spread.
How difficult is it when a friend or neighbor is elevated above us? Yet, if we want God’s blessings showered upon us, we must overcome the jealousy. We will be tempted to cut them down, dishonor them, but if we do we will be missing God’s blessing. Let’s love all God’s leaders and so be blessed by God.