No Little People
Scott Slaughter, Blog: Sorry, I’m Booked, 2014
Francis Schaeffer's foresight about issues soon to be front-page news in both the secular and Christian worlds, as if there were two worlds, is evidence of his clear heart and mind. As I'm working my way through the third volume of The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, "A Christian View of Spirituality," I am continually refreshed by his application of historic Christian spirituality to the seemingly unique challenges of living for Christ in the modern/post-modern age. An excellent example of his almost prescient thinking is in the area of how to appreciate and relate to Christian leaders. In a chapter entitled "The Weakness of God's Servants," Schaeffer manages to walk the tight rope between cult-like loyalty and cynicism. In light of recent discussions around this topic in evangelicalism Schaeffer's advice points the way to a healthy view of spiritual authority which enables believers to grow under the hand of skilled leaders without being blinded by idolatry on the one side or bitterness on the other. He warns us to guard against every form of utopianism.
1. The first rule, ... do not be romantic about Christian leaders. Do not idolize them. If you do, you will eventually find a weakness in them, and you will turn on them when you find less than perfection. ...We should not be caught between idolizing and despising. If we revere a person too much and then find weaknesses, our first tendency will be to deny any value at all in the man. But this is not right. The Bible is not romantic, and we are not to be romantic either. We are not to minimize sin, but we can expect perfection from no one but God. If from some Christian who has helped us spiritually we demand all or nothing, we will get nothing.
2. We can do something for living Christian leaders that we cannot do for dead ones. When a Christian leader confesses sin, he can be restored in love.
3. Finally, we must pray for our leaders. In our romanticism, we tend to elevate leaders so high that they might as well be pieces of wood. They are no longer people, but symbols. We cannot stand to think of them as sinners. And this is unfair.
Being a leader does not change a man's nature. ... We have an obligation to pray for those who have helped us. Schaeffer ends with, "As we reflect the Bible's realism, we will not turn people into pieces of wood and then walk away from them. Rather, we must remember that all Christians are men or women, sinners having many victories, yet sinners until Jesus comes again. ... Have I shared his [my spiritual leader's] burden? Specifically, have I treated him as a piece of wood or a religious symbol, or have I prayed for him as a person."
I am so grateful to God for the many pastors, professors, teachers, and individuals that God has used in my life. My prayer is that they all will know that I revered them as leaders and felt that I treated them as persons.
Post tenebras lux,