Keeping Watch on the Management 012811
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Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO
www.peacemennonitechurch.net (under construction)
Meditation and thoughts follow the scripture.
1 Timothy 5:17-24
Who Shall Abide in God’s Sanctuary?
A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
3 who do not slander with their tongue,
and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbours;
4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
but who honour those who fear the Lord;
who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
5 who do not lend money at interest,
and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
Those who do these things shall never be moved.
17 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
19 When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. 20When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.
21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.
25Suppose two persons have a dispute and enter into litigation, and the judges decide between them, declaring one to be in the right and the other to be in the wrong. 2If the one in the wrong deserves to be flogged, the judge shall make that person lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of lashes proportionate to the offence. 3Forty lashes may be given but not more; if more lashes than these are given, your neighbour will be degraded in your sight.
4 You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.
1 Timothy 5:17-24
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour,* especially those who labour in preaching and teaching; 18for the scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain’, and, ‘The labourer deserves to be paid.’ 19Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. 21In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. 22Do not ordain* anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
23 No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
24 The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgement, while the sins of others follow them there.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Keeping Watch on the Management
If we were to use the language of business to talk about the Bible and the church, today’s scripture from Timothy is a good example. If Jesus could be called the new business innovator and the entrepreneur, Paul would be the management team that was recruited to straighten out the organizational dynamics of the ‘Jesus’ innovation. Paul, or the Pauline writer discusses topics concerning administration of the new church and sometimes Paul says something different from Jesus.
Jesus was in the tradition of what was called an itinerant preacher, with no home, no set location for preaching, no purse full of money. Apparently Jesus and his disciples did not charge for miracles or for healing. Mary and Martha were wealthy women however and are praised for their support of Jesus and the disciples.
It is really Paul who ‘invented’ the church, and in this verse ‘The labourer deserves to be paid.’ Paul says it is right to pay the minister, leader, or elder that cares for the church. This is really not in line with the practice and teaching of Jesus who recruited the disciples by a promise of ‘no purse, no bag, no sandals’ to a life of wandering, preaching and serving the poor. There are Jesus-source rules for staying as a guest with people, with sharing their food and hospitality, but no rules for paying the preacher. I have heard it said that some more conservative Mennonite congregations and also the Amish, do not pay their ministers, and service is seen as a dreadful calling into a life of memorizing scriptures for church, and of leading their local church, all with no pay and to the detriment of farm work and family life.
The issue of pay for preachers or not is maybe a minor one, but it serves to warn us that Paul, in his efforts to organize a widely spread group of believers into a structure sometimes led him away from the strict tradition of having only itinerant, wandering, unpaid preachers, as Jesus had taught. This reminds us to take note of who is sayingwhat, and is a teaching from a man, even a man such as Paul, is not always exactly what Jesus had taught. God gave us intelligence and we should be able to examine the New Testament record, and decide for ourselves the proper course of action and of how to resolve such conflicts between Jesus, and those who were blessed with the work of building a ‘world’ church after Jesus’ death.