What Kind Of Christian Are You? No. 4.
For Dictatorial Christians! Part A.
Reading 3 John v 1-14.
Thomas Huxley was asked on one occasion what it took to make a good Christian. His reply was choice!
"It does not take much of a man to be a Christian, but it takes all there is of him."
The prerequisites of discipleship are,
Look to Jesus! b. Learn from Jesus! c. Listen to Jesus!
In this exercise we become more like Jesus, which of course is the whole purpose of discipleship.
"Christianity can be condensed into four words: admit, submit, commit, and transmit." Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873).
"Christianity is an invitation to true living, and its truth is only endorsed by actual experience. When a man becomes a committed Christian, he sooner or later sees the falsity, the illusions, and the limitations of the humanist geocentric way of thinking. He becomes (sometimes suddenly, but more often gradually) aware of a greatly enhanced meaning in life and of a greatly heightened personal responsibility. Beneath the surface of things as they seem to be, he can discern a kind of cosmic conflict in which he is now personally and consciously involved. He has ceased to be a spectator or a commentator and a certain small part of the battlefield is his alone. He also becomes aware . . . of the forces ranged against him."
J. B. Phillips (1906-1982).
This is the third study in lesser-known men in the Bible drawing us to true discipleship and commitment!
Diotrephes The Dictator!
"In every Christian's heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross, he remains on the throne. Perhaps this is at the bottom of the backsliding and worldliness among gospel believers today.
We want to be saved, but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility." A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).
Although Diotrephes thought himself strong and powerful he had doomed him-self to shadows, weakness, and spiritual sterility, as indeed does every such believer in the church of Jesus Christ who acts in such a manner.
Now there are three areas of thought surrounding this very high profile man in the church that should occupy our attention.
(1) Think With Me About His Church:
It would seem his church has been left unnamed, although it's thought by a number of scholars that with Gaius he was a member of the Corinthian Church.
That may or may not be so, but this man was in all the wrong ways leaving his mark upon his church. Who was Diotrephes anyhow? The name occurs everywhere in secular Greek literature. It is a name identified with Greek aristocracy, even nobility. It is very evident that this man was in what we commonly call the upper class bracket, he would be considered in his day, one of the elite. However, he came to the Lord and now professes to be one of Christ's followers. Being accustomed to taking the place of prominence he very soon makes his presence felt, he was evidently going to be top dog in the church much to the horror and annoyance of everyone else. Sadly, of course, he is one of those men who does not take the interests of others into consideration, whatever the Word of God says.
"Some time ago I was biking in Michigan and met another biker who, like myself, was a professor of theology. In the course of our conversation by the side of the road he said something I will never forget: "Bob, all I really want in life is for the Word of God to take up residence inside of me and form me into Christ-likeness." I think this statement hit me hard because my seminary training in the Bible was never that personal. We were always asking, "What does it say?" and seldom if ever made the step into a deep personal application of "How can that truth take up residence in me?" Robert Webber in The Covenant Companion (Jan. l990). Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 4.
Now that's the role of the real believer within the church of Jesus Christ, to display a Christ likeness before all heaven, all hell, and all humans!
How does a Diotrephes then ever get into the church in the first place? He slips in undetected as nothing other than a sinner saved by grace. He is welcomed with open arms, and if a church is not led by individuals who display a high degree of godliness and spiritual maturity he may soon work his way into a place of leadership and very quickly become an over powering dictator. Thus the need folks for men in leadership to be of a high quality of spiritual maturity and on that area there should be no fudging. John says in v 9.
"I wrote unto the church, but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not."
Here's a man who no matter who the pastor, no matter who the Apostle is, will make up his own mind about things. He will make the necessary decisions and he will manipulate things and people until he has his own way even if it means wrecking the church and tearing the testimony to pieces. It’s the church; it’s always the church that suffers when such men are in control. And I say to this group in this room this evening, pray often and long that appointments may be made in this church only as the Spirit of God leads. The church is precious to Jesus and it should be precious to us!
What every church desperately needs is a body of people who are faithful to the Lord and committed to His cause. It hurts deeply when I hear people who associate with this church continually run it down and find fault. Stop complaining and start crying to God. Take an example from Mary in Luke 1 v 38.
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy Word."
The end result was, God trusted Mary with His Son! Can he trust me; can he trust you with His Son?
Listen dear folks, every church ought to take heed with respect to the church of Jesus Christ. This is no game! The church is not to be taken lightly or treated foolishly. Remember 1 Samuel 4 v 21.
"And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
Now Eli was ninety-and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not; neither did she regard it.
21. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."
Ichabod could be written over a life and written over a church!
"The secret of every discord in Christian homes and communities and churches is that we seek our own way and our own glory."
(2) Think With Me About His Character: (Or class)
He really was a very transparent man, this Diotrephes. He is so insecure and uncertain he can only survive by being a Bullyboy, which is of course the trademark of all such people. In one way or another they will display a bully like attitude to keep feeling secure.
Nothing can choke the heart and soul out of walking with God like legalism. Rigidity is the most certain sign that the Disciplines have spoiled. The disciplined person is the person who can live appropriately in life.
Consider the story of Hans the tailor. Because of his reputation, an influential entrepreneur visiting the city ordered a tailor-made suit. But when he came to pick up his suit, the customer found that one sleeve twisted that way and the other this way; one shoulder bulged out and the other caved in. He pulled and struggled and finally, wrenched and contorted, he managed to make his body fit. As he returned home on the bus, another passenger noticed his odd appearance and asked if Hans the tailor had made the suit. Receiving an affirmative reply, the man remarked, "Amazing! I knew that Hans was a good tailor, but I had no idea he could make a suit fit so perfectly someone as deformed as you."
Often that is just what we do in the church. We get some idea of what the Christian faith should look like: then we push and shove people into the most grotesque configurations until they fit wonderfully! That is death. It is a wooden legalism which destroys the soul.
Richard J. Foster in "TSF Bulletin," Nov.-Dec. 1982.
The character of Diotrephes is such; he pushes and pulls to have the members of his church fit into his deformed way of thinking whatever the outcome. He's the extremist, he's the one always right, and anyone who differs with him will not last very long in that church. His church and character suffer greatly!
Petty people are ugly people. They are people who have lost their vision. They are people who have turned their eyes away from what matters and focused, instead, on what doesn't matter. The result is that the rest of us are immobilized by their obsession with the insignificant.
It is time to rid the church of pettiness. It is time the church refused to be victimized by petty people. It is time the church stopped ignoring pettiness. It is time the church quit pretending that pettiness doesn't matter.
Pettiness has become a serious disease in the Church of Jesus Christ--a disease which continues to result in terminal cases of discord, disruption, and destruction. Petty people are dangerous people because they appear to be only a nuisance instead of what they really are--a health hazard. Mike Yaconelli.