42 q And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles r lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But s it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 1 44 and whoever would be first among you must be t slave 1 of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but u to serve, and v to give his life as a ransom for w many.”
42 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς• οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι αὐτῶν κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν. 43 οὐχ οὕτως δέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν, ἀλλʼ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ μέγας γενέσθαι ἐν ὑμῖν ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος, 44 καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται πάντων δοῦλος• 45 καὶ γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.
1 Timothy 5:17-25
17 Let the elders z who rule well be considered worthy of a double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, b “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, c “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except d on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, e rebuke them in the presence of all, f so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels g I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, h doing nothing from partiality. 22 i Do not be hasty in the j laying on of hands, nor k take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but l use a little wine m for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and n even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
1 Timothy 5:17-25
17 Οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι διπλῆς τιμῆς ἀξιούσθωσαν, μάλιστα οἱ κοπιῶντες ἐν λόγῳ καὶ διδασκαλίᾳ. 18 λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή• βοῦν ἀλοῶντα οὐ φιμώσεις , καί• ἄξιος ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ. 19 κατὰ πρεσβυτέρου κατηγορίαν μὴ παραδέχου, ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ δύο ἢ τριῶν μαρτύρων . 20 Τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας ἐνώπιον πάντων ἔλεγχε, ἵνα καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ φόβον ἔχωσιν. 21 Διαμαρτύρομαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων, ἵνα ταῦτα φυλάξῃς χωρὶς προκρίματος, μηδὲν ποιῶν κατὰ πρόσκλισιν. 22 χεῖρας ταχέως μηδενὶ ἐπιτίθει μηδὲ κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις ἀλλοτρίαις• σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τήρει. 23 Μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, ἀλλʼ οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ διὰ τὸν στόμαχον καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σου ἀσθενείας. 24 Τινῶν ἀνθρώπων αἱ ἁμαρτίαι πρόδηλοί εἰσιν προάγουσαι εἰς κρίσιν, τισὶν δὲ καὶ ἐπακολουθοῦσιν• 25 ὡσαύτως καὶ τὰ ἔργα τὰ καλὰ πρόδηλα, καὶ τὰ ἄλλως ἔχοντα κρυβῆναι οὐ δύνανται.
Making church safe, part 1: why we need to talk about this Introduction Our culture is increasingly talking about various forms of 'abuse', and so we need to be more sure, not less, of how to speak about this as Christians. The problem of 'spiritual abuse' in churches - all kinds of churches - is real and catastrophic. The Bible talks a great deal about the problems of wrongdoing, including what is today called 'spiritual abuse', within the Christian community. Historically, Christians have tended to be naïve or simplistic where the Bible is not. We are prone to blind spots and so the more honest, humble, and reflective we can be the better for us all. Three part series. Today, why we need to talk about it. Next week, how we identify and address unhealthy and sinful patterns of behaviour, especially among leaders. The third week, prevention and recovery. Bible passages referred to across all three sermons (precise sequences tbc): Mark 10.42-45; 1 Timothy 5.17-25; 1 Peter 5.1-11; Titus 1.5-9; 1 Timothy 3.1-7; Acts 20.26-35; Ezekiel 22.1-31; Matthew 23.1-39. 1. Theological foundations Goodness of authority: it is given before the fall (and includes e.g., the sun 'ruling' over the day). Authority is not bad in itself, but good. In contrast, c ulturally we are suspicious of power and authority itself. Deception of sin: our sin nature means that we no longer use authority to serve, but instead for our own desires. And, we deceive ourselves. This self-deception creates distance in relationships. Whole societies can become collectively deceived. In contrast to our culture, which divides into righteous victims and cruel oppressors, the Bible portrays us as simultaneously victims of others' sin, and also perpetrators of our own: a more nuanced view of humanity. Theology proper: God is absolute authority, yet he is absolute love. This is shown in the Word become flesh, who becomes a self-giving servant. We don't really need the slippery term 'spiritual abuse', since the Bible already gives us categories - such as domineering, lording it, shameful gain, etc. cf Titus 1.7-8. The gospel is the very shape and tone of the Christian life, including the use of authority. Tragedies and outrages happen when Christians lose sight of the cross-shaped life, and when others stop calling them to it. 2. We are more prone to making church unhealthy than we like to think By 'unhealthy' I mean, at root, abandoning a gospel shape to our culture, relationships and interactions. A long list of reasons why conservative, Bible-believing churches are prone to a particular kind of unhealthy culture...[DM to insert in here] When does correct use of authority become misuse? When power is being used to meet selfish needs. Next week we'll consider some 'early warning signs' in more detail. 3. Yet there is real hope None of today's problems are new! The reason why so much of OT and NT is taken up with these things is because the people of God have constantly had to navigate the brokenness of sin in their midst. Jesus the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5). He is our comfort and our hope; he is also our model and leader. And he is the one who is our Keeper, more committed to our growth in him than we are ourselves. The firmer, surer, clearer grasp we have on the true person and work of Jesus, the safer we will be. The grasp on the gospel is what enables us to spot non-gospel ways of relating, and what gives us the conviction to address issues with grace and wisdom. If we don't have a true gospel-culture, our policies and procedures can't ultimately help us as they too will be used as tools for selfish ends. Wrap up : Next week: how we are to spot and address sinful patterns within the church, especially among leaders. Let us remember the ultimate reality of the universe is our God of absolute authority, committed in absolute love. This is shown in the Word become flesh, who becomes a self-giving servant.