Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jesus said, "Don't be doing that!"

Disclaimer: If you are a "Grammar Nazi", prepare to be.....disappointed!

Words matter. Say what you like, but words have power and carry weight. The same is true of titles. When we acknowledge someone according to a particular given title , we inevitably relate to that person in light of that title. The use of honorific titles may be a necessary evil in this world, but they have no place within the church.

Few things in the modern church make me want to barf as much as the use of honorific titles. I simply CAN NOT STAND IT! Several years ago, I actually heard a “pastor” rebuke a child who dared to call him by his first name. With a gentle grasp of her tiny hand he pointed out to this poor disillusioned child that she was to call him “Pastor ______”. Again, I could have thrown up!

It seems men of religion have always loved being addressed in such a way as to receive honor. In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke the following words of such men:

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

But if you continue to read, you’ll quickly see that Jesus says, "don't be doing that"!

“But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus condemned the worldly practice of the exaltation of men through the use of honorific titles. Why? Because we are ALL brothers and have only ONE Master.

The use of honorific titles in the modern church is one of the most widely accepted non-biblical practices in existence today. Terms such as “Pastor”, “Reverend”, “Bishop”, “Father”, and yes my southern favorite, “Preacher” represent just a few of the many titles we confer to ordinary men. These men may be gifted leaders and upstanding individuals, but in no way deserve such recognition. This honor is reserved for our Lord Jesus and Him alone.

If you ask someone to share their thoughts regarding this practice, most would declare it to be a “non-issue” with them. My response can only be, “HOW?”. How can this be the case when such titles reinforce and solidify the continued adherence to the heresy of a clergy laity distinction? How, when our Lord has obviously commanded us not to do this? Yet even in light of the plain truths spoken by our Lord Himself, we continue to follow the well worn path traditionalism has paved smooth throughout the years.

Friends, the use honorific titles may be the norm for a fallen world, but they have no place in the holy assembly of God’s chosen people. There is but one Lord, one Master, and one Head of the church. If honor is to be bestowed, let it be to Him who is worthy!

No comments: