One Another: A meta-narrative for the Church
Many, if not all the evils the church has brought on itself are caused by some of us trying to be the greatest among one another. With true Adam like audacity, we actually started jockeying for leadership of the others before Jesus was even dead, and we did it secretly because we knew He wouldn't approve. We are truly vile creatures, saved and being saved by His grace. When God warns us that false prophets will come as angles of light, or when He tells us that the church in Revelation ferreted out lying Apostles, He’s talking about folks like us; men and women in the church who are servant to others, and He is telling us to make sure we are not deceiving ourselves and each other in seeking leadership. We need to be very careful who we term ‘them’ when Jesus refers to ‘us’. I’m suspicious of the oft used term ‘servant-leadership’. It sounds safe, almost biblical, but I can’t find it anywhere in scripture in the way we mean it. I only see serving one another among those who are spiritual, and calling it leadership within the context of a community that mutually serves one another seems to me to be getting too close to a slippery slope.
The church today is full of leaders who are threatened by and suppress the childlike ways that define mutual one another-ing. Unbelievably then, we have collectively erected special schools that will indiscriminately train anyone that can pay the fee, to be servant leaders. It’s become a profitable business for some, and a job creation program for many others. Of course there are many students in these schools that have a truly childlike servant heart, and their fruit will become evident, but overall, these edifices have contributed to the building of a religious industrial complex that one day soon may declare war on communities that threaten their hegemony by truly serving one another.
Not long after Jesus demonstrated how to live in love and humility with one another, the script for ‘One Another’ was lost and buried under an endless production of B rated stories; real gems like ‘Calvinists thump the Arminians’, ‘ Pastor Joe builds his own Protestant Vatican’, ‘ Jesus is my President’ and my personal favorite is ‘Start 3 churches to be an Apostle’.
These are loud but hollow productions where the lead actors write the script, and then blackmail the Director and the cast into financing it.
Finally, after his warning to not offend, Jesus finishes with one simple way to have peace with one another and avoid all the damage. Alluding to the OT sacrifices, he wraps up Mark 9 with some typology that his Jewish listeners understood to mean they are living sacrifices, burnt by refining fire, as daily worship to God.
49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
50 Salt is good: but if the salt has lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Sacrifices were salted before offering, signifying that they were disinfected. Salt disinfects bacteria, and Jesus tells us that instead of wanting to be leaders, which is like a deadly bacteria, we should kill that desire with salt, and if we do, we will have peace with one another. Salt, in the context of one another is living a life crucified with Christ, and living that same crucified life with one another. Wow! When I heard that simple cure to the wanna be leader pandemic that has caused all the wars among us, and so many little ones to be offended, I decided right then to practice Uber One Another-ing as Jesus did.
Sadly though, it’s taking a reluctant and far too comfortable church too long to bring salt into our relationships with one another, and the growing list of offended little ones is being kept in heaven, as is the list of offenders. I know I’m on the offended list but I may also have a few entries on the other list too, that occurred before I realized my desire to serve was mixed with a desire to be served or recognized. Warning God gifted brethren from making this lethal blunder should be as common as warning our children to not play road hockey in traffic.(just gave away that I’m Canadian eh?) We should have as much to say about it as Jesus did, and no less strongly. And the sooner we add a pinch of salt to everything we think, say and do with one another, the sooner we will begin to see Eph. 4 becoming an emerging reality among us. You think you've seen the kingdom of God? The real action starts when whole towns and cities are one another-ing, and upsetting the prince of darkness. With Martin Luther, a pioneer in modern one another-ing, we tremble not for him because his doom is sure.
So, bring salt to your next gathering, and every one after that, and get your advance ticket to the Premier screening of One Another! I have it on good authority that many that are first now will be last then, so there should be lots of room. I’ll be there.