Dr. Michael Trapasso THE SPIRIT OF DIOTROPHES
September 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Diotrophes” loved to be first among them”. He was motivated by inner need to be at the centre and in control. Every leader is on this in their own heart-in their need for recognition and significance.
As far as we know, apart from personal ambition, there was no other issue. He loved to have the first place. This is the same Greek word Paul used speaking of Christ’s place as Head of the Church: “He is …head of the body, the church…so that he himself might come to have the first place in everything”. (Col.1:18) His unresolved need for recognition caused him to unconsciously usurp the place of Christ in the life and affections of the congregation.(Photo by Gospel Coalition)
How many times has this happened over and over in the history of the Church? In fact our inherited structures and values have only served to institutionalize and legitimize the spirit of Diotrophes.
Does Christ really have the first place in the leadership of the Church today? In sentiment “yes” but, in reality “NO”. Man does. We have usurped Christ’s position as head of the Church Human control, exercised in the spirit of Diotrophes, has severed us from the central nervous system of the Spirit.
The history of the Christian church is characterized by leaders who resort to less than worthy means to obtain a less than kingdom object-their own advancement. But, this is not to say that every leader that has occupied church office is of the spirit of Diotrophes.
Quite the opposite, Multitudes of worthy men and women of God have served the Lord through traditional church positions. But whenever, positions of official power exist, falleness of human nature, to whatever degree will find it difficult to resist.
Where there is a lack of anointing to fill the office, seduction and manipulation operate, to both obtain and maintain a position. Spiritual gifting is self evident and will make a way in the hearts of God’s people, but where a leader without the anointing aspires to an office, self promotion and manipulation are inevitable. And if the more subtle arts of flattery and innuendo do not work the spirit of Diotrophes will resort to slander and used to naked power.
Diotrophes used “wicked words (3 John 10NASB),”maliciously accusing”(Goodspeed version) John.
Feeling that his position was threatened he maligned John’s character (whether openly or covertly we don’t know) Seeking to undermine John’s credibility in the eyes of the congregation. When this did not work he resorted to raw ‘power’; he refused to welcome the brothers “and stopped those who wanted to do so and put them out of the church” Verse 10.He refused to receive the apostolic team sent from John, and exerted his senior ministerial power in putting those out of the church who wished to do so. (Very common among us in Africa.
Be careful and scrutinize what African church leaders write to you about fellow ministers).
The central nervous system of Christ’s body, the men of the Spirit-apostles, prophets, and teachers-was severed. With of one leader over the others, not only was the congregation cut off from free association with the Apostles, it was also cut off from the head of the Body-Christ Himself.
PAUL’S PROPHETIC WARNING
Calling the Elders (remember the office of the senior pastor didn’t exist) 0f the church in Ephesus together for a conference Paul prophetically warned them: I know that after my departure, certain wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!…”(Acts 20:29:-31).
Jesus also warned of pseudo prophets who would arise, looking like sheep and smelling like sheep, but inwardly be ravenous wolves. They would be predatory-hungry and looking to satisfy themselves. However, these wolves.”…in sheep’s clothing” are not wild eyed, neither are they cultish leaders. Jesus said they look like sheep-they look harmless. They wear business suits, speak in tongues, and preach on Sundays and in crusades. In fact, Paul said they would arise from among themselves-from among the preachers and the elders!
HOW WOULD THEY BE RECOGNISED? Firstly, by their inner wolf nature-their ravenous self-life would feed on the flock for their own survival. Secondly, they would arise from the team of elders. They would raise themselves above their peers seeking preeminence.
Thirdly they would draw away disciples after themselves”. Just as Ignatius advocated, the bishop or a senior pastor becomes central to the unity of the congregation, developing a cult of personal loyalty.
Lastly, they would “distort the truth” to develop their personal following. This is not necessarily false doctrine. Their preaching and teaching may be doctrinally sound-remember they look and sound like “sheep,” but they twist and distort the truth in their personal dealings to gain the first place over other leaders and the congregation.
By the turn of the first century Paul’s prophesy was fulfilled. The plurality of elders was overtaken by the singularity one senior minister-the office of the Bishop. And through the advocacy of men such as Ignatius and Cyprian, what can only be described as an aberration, it was mainstream into the life of the church.
I hope by this message, I have tried to answer why many in the Body of Christ, are frustrated by the Church system some do trust their computers to give them fellowship through internet to being the system that is manipulated by one man rule in the church.
I thank you sister Faith Dixon for sharing with me your frustration with the System. You are not alone. Do you know that long before you were born; your father David taught me some of these truths in Teddington, England when I was their guest?
Michael Trapasso J.D. Summa cum laude
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