Prepositions Define Leadership Style & Relationships
God established a Priesthood so that He would have men “draw near TO him.” God’s design was never to have a “distant” relationship WITH mankind, but an intimate, close relationship. God had walked IN the garden WITH Adam and Eve; they all communicated as close friends. Sin separated man FROM his God; distant relationships came THROUGH sin.
Relationships were mutual BEFORE the fall; Adam and Eve did everything IN one accord, together, IN unity WITH God. Sin brought distance IN Adam’s relationship WITH Eve, and as part OF the curse the male would dominate or “rule OVER” the woman who would cling TO him. This intimate mutual relationship OF equal peers could only be restored THROUGH the shed blood OF Jesus Christ ON the Cross, as an atonement for the sins OF mankind. Now, IN Jesus, a mutual relationship as equal peers to be united as one was restored not only TO the institution OF marriage but also TO the Church as a whole. God’s design was never to have a “distant” relationship WITH mankind, but an intimate, close relationship.
Jesus told his disciples that the gentiles “rule OVER” one another, but that is not the way IN the kingdom OF God. God’s people “reign WITH” one another by being “BESIDE” one another IN a linear relationship OF equality. Even though Jesus had to return TO the Father IN heaven to intercede FOR His believers, He promised that he would not abandon them as orphans. He does not believe IN distant relationships. Instead they He made them “children OF God”, and their physical bodies would become the “temples OF the Holy Spirit.” God’s personal Holy Spirit would not be “ABOVE” them in the far distance, nor descending as a dove had upon Jesus when he was baptized, but would be “IN” them. How intimate is that? All mankind has to do is allow the Holy Spirit “IN” their lives, and He chooses to dwell or live there forever! How awesome is that?
Unfortunately when we diminish relationship, we establish religion. As “God’s people” became known as “The Children OF Disobedience” IN the dessert, a religious institution replaced those relationships WITH an Old Testament Priesthood headed by a High Priest, a man, who oversaw animal sacrifices and a Levitical priesthood. By the time Jesus appeared the Ark OF the Covenant, God’s Presence, was missing IN a Temple that had replaced the Tabernacle. God wanted to reestablish relationships, to again “draw men near” him, thus he faced the Cross, death, that led TO his resurrection. God had already established a “Priesthood of Believers” according TO the order of Melchizadek who was without genealogy, tradition, and IN the likeness of Jesus Christ. Fallen relationships had been restored THROUGH Jesus.
Religious “institutions” have built pyramidal organizational structures WITH a man AT the top. I don’t care if it is the High Priest, the Roman Catholic Pope, or the Protestant local Pastor who lord “OVER” their flock or group. The foundation OF the clergy/laity schism is built ON this pyramid of church power and politics of who will rule “OVER” the church. OVER the centuries the clergy have made sure power has become entrenched WITH them while the laity are to be only followers.
This is not how the kingdom of God works. Leadership “WITHIN” the Church is defined by who is “BESIDE” you, “NEXT TO” you, “WITH” you, not who is “OVER” you. When Jesus was ON earth, He never lorded “OVER” anyone. He did not establish a pyramid structure where he was “ABOVE” his disciples but always walked “WITH” them, “BESIDE” them while teaching them AS a peer, a man, a teacher teaching only what the “Father” was telling him. In fact, the last thing he taught his disciples before going TO the Garden OF Gethsemane and the Cross was how not to be “ABOVE” them, but stooped down “BELOW” them and washed their feet. He was preparing them to learn the principle OF how to “lay DOWN your life FOR your brethren” by literally “laying DOWN his life FOR them.” When you lay something DOWN, it is “BENEATH” you, not “above” you.
The Church needs to learn to lay “DOWN” their lives FOR one another; Christian husbands need to learn how to lay “DOWN” their lives for their wives, not lording “OVER” them. They are your equal peers, your Eve’s, restored TO oneness “WITH” you so that you can be IN agreement IN all things! They are not to be controlled but served! You are to present them TO yourself “without spot or wrinkle”, pure, holy, blameless, as a restored equal IN Jesus! Leadership needs to not be “ABOVE” those they are to serve, but be AT their level: “AHEAD” of them to lead, “BEHIND” them to cover their backs, and “BESIDE” them IN their personal journeys, and they need to begin to “equip the saints”, not the staff, for the “works OF service”, teaching them to serve one another THROUGH personal examples!
As believers IN Jesus, God is “WITH” us, not distantly “ABOVE” us, out OF our reach, but actually “IN” us; His Holy Spirit choosing to “IN”dwell us! The church needs to rethink and restructure its leadership models. Institutional hierarchy models are not scriptural, not the plan of the kingdom of God, and not relational as equal peers IN Jesus Christ. If the Church wants true revival, radical changes will have to occur IN its mindsets, IN its methods, and how it handles relationships, especially between leadership and the rest OF the body of Christ. Leadership MUST begin to get off its pedestal “above” its congregation, and not only mingle, but be equal peers WITH them THROUGH service.