EQUALITY AMONG CHRIST'S DISCIPLES
Note: This post will answer many questions concerning the disciples of The Lord, with some reflections on how Christ seeking groups are structured.
The people who truly follow Christ are those who seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first (Mat 6:33), baptized in the name of The Father (being the true God), and of The Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:19-20) and perform Christ’s wondrous works (Mk 16:15-18), and, remain in the words of Christ (Jn 8:31) – The Lord Yeshua-Christos calls them His disciples, the same ones who are born of the Spirit who come and go from all directions (Jn 3:3-8).
THE DISCIPLES AND THEIR WORK AS PROPHESIED
The prophet Isaiah introduced Christ’s disciples to include the Gentiles (strangers and foreigners) who work in the Lord’s field as shepherds, plowmen and vinedressers. In the same prophecy they are also named priests of The Lord and servants (or ministers in NIV) of God (Isa 61:5-6). This priestly duty is confirmed by Apostle Peter when He called God’s people in Christ as a chosen generation with a royal priesthood (I Pet 2:9-10). They are truly the ones who followed Christ, putting their hands on the plow without looking back (Luk 9:59-62), showing commitment to His work. In the end, when The Lord returns and gives them the reward of eternal life, they will reign equally as kings in the Kingdom of God, under the jurisdiction of The Lord Yeshua-Christos, The Lord of Lords and King of Kings (Rev 19:16).
From this biblical viewpoint, the disciples of The Lord Yeshua do the same work, that is, His work. They are all equal as brothers and sisters in The Lord having been commanded to love one another (Jn 13:34-35; I Pet 4:8; I Jn 4:11-12).
NOT A HIERARCHICAL ORGANIZATION
One cannot hear from The Lord the terms clergy and lay members for He did not envision different status among His followers. The structure of clergy and lay members was popularized by the Catholic Church as they pattern their organizational chart to that of Judaism (with much influence from Paul’s hierarchical structure, I Cor 12:28-30), wherein the priests who come from the tribe of Levi (thus are called Levitical priests) serve the whole nation of Israel, while the rest just have to bring their tithings and sacrificial animal offerings. The Lord Yeshua has a different perspective concerning His disciples and followers. Rather than a hierarchical structure that could be so divisive and partial, The Lord Yeshua desires “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me… that they may be made perfect in one” (Jn 17:21, 23).
In one instance when two of the twelve apostles, namely James and John, approached The Lord and seek a special position or stature of being seated directly on His right hand while the other on His left hand, The Lord corrected them of such a wrong outlook:
“And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.””
“WHOEVER DESIRES TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU SHALL BE YOUR SERVANT”, is such an apolitical statement of Christ upon which most, if not all, Christ professing groups and churches fail in practice. Just look around and see how many titles you can compile from all organized religions today, and these different titles - from Pope, President, Executive Minister, Prophet and Prophetess and many others, all claiming special connection, authority and/or representation of The Lord Yeshua. In fact, many decided to name their ministry under their name.
Did The Christ intend special connections only to certain individuals to be His medium so that His presence be felt by His followers? To whom did He promise His spiritual presence? Let us confirm this from The Lord himself:
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
The promised presence of Christ is not for any specific individual or group but to any of His disciples who gather in His name.
THE LEADER OF THE LORD’S FOLLOWERS
If the disciples are the shepherds and plowmen in The Lord’s field, then who are the sheep and the plantings or crops? They are too, they are both the servants and the served. For this reason Apostle Peter instructed his fellow disciples to minister to each other (I Pet 4:10) the gifts that they all received from God, being the stewards of His grace. Being all equal as brothers and workers, priests and ministers, who then leads them while they are still in the world? None other than The Lord Yeshua-Christos himself for He is the One Shepherd who will gather all his sheep into the one flock (Jn 10:16). And although they are still be in the world, The Savior clarified that they are not of the world (Jn 17:14, 16) for their true assembly, church or gathering is in the kingdom of God in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (Rev:21:2-3).
How does Christ lead His disciples on earth when He is already in heaven? Through His spiritual presence every time they gather in His name (Mat 18:20) and through His words that He left in the world (Jn 12:48), as they are spirit and life (Jn 6:63). And since the true disciples of Christ are being led and guided by the words of the Lord Yeshua, whenever a discussion or misunderstanding occurs, they will always go back to His words and invoke His spirit for guidance - never scrutinizing the written words of Christ but their own understanding in order to always preserve His truth that is binding and very much alive.
The disciples, or followers, of Christ are not designed to become like an earthly organization that grows vertically in structure. After all they are not of this world and their true assembly or church is the spiritual house in heaven or the New Jerusalem. They grow horizontally with no one higher in position than any one. They are all equal in stature, being recognized by The Lord as His friends, as they have the same understanding of The Lord’s truth and everything about Him and His salvation (I Jn 2:20; Jn 15:15), which is another mark of a true disciple. They will have no specific leader as they are all leaders, in the same manner that they are all servants, ministers, priests, lords and kings. Their only Leader, Lord, Master and King is The Lord Yeshua-Christos and no one else. Their counsel is pure and their understanding is absolute for it is The Lord’s and He has direct involvement in their lives by commissioning the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26) to remind them of everything that He promised and spoken.