"And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honour." Matt. 13:57
Jesus was not welcome in His hometown. They knew Him. They had bought furniture or farm tools from Him. They had seen Him grow up from Boy to Man. They knew His mother, Mary, and had known His adoptive father, Joseph. His brothers and sisters were still living in the community. Now in this ordinary hometown Jesus stood up and told them He was the Messiah. It was too much. They could not accept it. Their eyes were blinded by familiarity.
We shake our heads sadly. How could they be so foolish? Jesus. Jesus! And they missed Him! We know we would never have been in that crowd. We would have welcomed Him.
Good News! Jesus is in the world today. Do you recognize Him? He has a plan and a purpose today to expand the Kingdom of God to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. Just as the family is the primary building block of society, so the local church is the primary building block of the Kingdom of God [which invades every area of life]. The local church is key...and the local pastor is the God-appointed leader under Jesus Christ. If we are not respecting and treating our pastor with honour, then we would have been in the crowd which rejected Jesus. [Matt. 23:29-30]
Sometimes we allow extra-church ministries to steal our affection and commitment from the local church and our pastor. There are great [and no-so-great] ministries out there, but their purpose should always be to strengthen the local church or Christians in their relation to the local church. [One reason we like the TV or Internet ministries is that we can be in control. We can hide behind the TV or computer screen and avoid dealing with issues in our life.] If these ministries are drawing people away from their commitment to the local church...run. No matter how spiritual they sound, they are not in the plan of God for the earth.
Familiarity sometimes causes us to take our local church leadership for granted, or - God forbid - to treat them scornfully. We see their weaknesses and personality quirks [like they see ours]. If we unfavourably compare their speaking or pastoral abilities with our "favorite" extra-church ministry [or some else's pastor], then we are as unwise and immature as a husband who admires another woman's beauty in the presence of his wife.
We should be our pastor's greatest and most loyal supporter. We should treat him/her and their staff with respect and honour at all times. [Sometimes we treat the pastor with respect but his/her secretary like dirt. This is people-pleasing prideful sin.] The pastor is responsible for directing the local church to fulfill its purpose in the local community and beyond. He/she is the General under Christ, we are the soldiers. Soldiers do not give orders to generals! May we never have a "prophet" without honour in our midst.
Some will say, "You don't know my pastor." Doesn't matter. God does. Even if you are in disagreement with your pastor, your job is loyal support and love. Loyalty is never tested until there is a disagreement with authority. The local church as led by our pastor and his/her staff is to receive our prime focus, our greatest support - financial, verbal, time, etc.
Other than the change of physical location, is there ever a time to leave the local church? There are a very few reasons when it may be necessary to change churches within a community. If the pastor is leading people into sin, is involved in unrepentant sin, or supports ungodly lifestyles/doctrines, then we have a reason to leave. Loyalty to Christ is always more important than loyalty to a human being. [However, to use loyalty to Christ to leave for a lessor reason is deception...and Jesus knows the heart.] Leaving a church is to be considered as serious as a Biblical divorce. There must be a Biblically legitimate reason to change churches within a community or else we commit spiritual adultery. Even when we are compelled to leave it must be with integrity, respect, and without unnecessary division. We must never treat the pastor as a prophet without honour.
Bottom Line: The local church is the plan of Jesus in the world today. If you are actively involved in your local church, positively supporting your pastor and his/her staff - great - you are on the right track. If you are not involved in a local Godly church - get committed and involved. If you are not going to get involved with a Godly local church, then quit pretending and get out of the way because the church of Jesus Christ is marching on.
May there never a "prophet without honour" in our midst.
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