Just yesterday I had a full day of study, prayer, and made 4 visits before going to a Gospel meeting. Somewhere in the afternoon we had a brief time for supper, and I grilled steaks. Its finally spring time after all!
While I was grilling the steaks in the backyard, Sophie (age 7) and Timmy (age 5) decided to go back in the house. Their journey of course quickly became a sibling race and they arrived at the door together. They both had two hands on the door. They both pressed into the door to keep the other from opening it. For about 5 minutes they cried out “DADDY!” “HE won’t let me in the house!” “SHE won’t let me in the house!” They were both oblivious to their own part in keeping the door closed tight.
It would have been somewhat humorous if I had not previously had conversations with more than one preacher that day who related stories of two or more elders, deacons, ministers, or self-appointed church bosses destroying congregations by fighting over “who gets to open the door.” Each one is blind to his/her own actions and positions which keep the doors closed. Each one blames the other. Each one criticizes the other. Each one tries to out position the other. Each one tries to destroy the other. Each one must have the “upper hand” of “head leader”.
In this sad situation, no individual recognizes that they themselves are just as to blame for keeping the door closed as is the person whom they are fighting. They will accuse one another. They will try to destroy one another. They will not help the other. They will not promote the other. They will not back away and let the other “open the door.” All the while, congregations die because their leaders are killing each other as they try “to open the door”.
That sort of life has proven too hurtful for me and everyone else who has experienced it. Let us try something different.
How about we try this: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). This way we don’t fight over who gets to open the door. We fight to find doors for other people to open. We fight for ways to promote others. We fight to find ways for others to excel and be promoted. We rejoice in their advancement. We rejoice in their blessings. I am thank God to be a part of, and to know of other congregations of people, who “open doors for me” and who “open doors for others” while putting themselves last. That is what Jesus did.
Paul said, “I planted. Apollos watered. God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Perhaps Paul would say this to us: “it doesn’t matter who opens the door. The only thing that matters, is that Jesus gets in.”
Brothers, we can do better.