Tuesday, March 12, 2019

All Prophets

Let's be honest - Moses had a hard gig. The Lord came and spoke directly to him, so there were not a lot of questions about what he was supposed to be doing, but he still had to do it. He still had to get an entire nation of people on board with God's plan. He still had to organize them and lead them out of Egypt. He still had to keep them on track in the wilderness. Most of what we see of Moses is his intercession for the people because he's the one who, above all, had to keep their faith when they lost it. 

He was, in all effect, the pastor of Israel. 

And we know well the heavy weight of being a pastor of a people. We see it all the time, and we see how men so commonly handle the burden - they become convinced that it's all about them, that the church depends on what they are able to do, that they must not stumble because it will fail their people. That the entire weight of all that God is doing in the world is on their shoulders. 

It doesn't take much to get from this place of humble responsibility to the dangerous place of arrogant self-importance. It's a small step, really, and one we see taken far too often by our church leaders. Even our lay leaders. Even the guy who changes light bulbs in the church is susceptible to this kind of mindset. "The church doesn't run without me." And all of a sudden, we start to think ourselves more important than anyone else, our burden more holy, our hearts more capable.

We start to think it's all about us and when that happens, we start to build walls around ourselves. We start to try to protect our gifts. We start preaching and telling you what to think, but not how we thought about it to get to that point. We start making commands instead of preaching commandments. We start pretending that we do what no one else could ever possibly do, and we make sure of that by refusing to let anyone else know how we do it. We are irreplaceable. 

And we like it that way. 

But Moses has a different take, and it's a good reminder for all of us who serve in the church, no matter what it is that we do. In Numbers 11, while Moses is once again trying to be the everything for his people (at their own expectation), he cries out in frustration and says, "Oh, I wish that you ALL were prophets! I wish that you ALL were doing what I do!" 

The one man in all Israel who has reason to believe he's special, the one man who hears directly from God face-to-face, the one man who has truly been indispensable in the entire journey thus far cries out that he wishes everyone had the gifts that he has when it comes to the Lord. He wishes everyone could hear directly. He wishes more of the people were like him. 

That's a far cry from the pastor who believes no one else could ever do what he's doing. It's a long way away from the man who won't even tell anyone where the church keeps their spare light bulbs. It's leaps and bounds from the woman who teaches the same children's class every Sunday because no one else could possibly get it right. For the children, of course. 

No, Moses wishes everyone could do what he's doing. He longs for them all to hear and to speak the truth. He wants them all to lead one another through the wilderness. He wants them interceding for themselves and for each other, holding their own faith the way he's had to hold it for so long. 

He wants them privy to the things that he knows. He wants them in on the secrets and the mysteries of God. He wants them full into the whole process. Oh, I wish that you ALL were prophets like me! And not for Moses's sake, but for the people's sake. For their own good. For their own hearts. For their own souls. 

What would our churches look like if we all took this posture? What kind of community would we be if our leaders, those who serve us, believed we should all have their gifts? What if they didn't want to be irreplaceable, but wanted something more instead? 

What if you gave away your gift and longed for others to have it, too? What if you could trust someone else to lead worship that would draw you closer to God, to preach a sermon that would teach you something about Him, to change a light bulb? 

What if we all wished for us ALL to be prophets like us? How would that change our churches? How would that change the Church? 

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