Francis Drake, Privateer

A privateer was a private warship authorized by his country to attack foreign shipping

Faith comes by hearing the “herd”? Or faith comes by hearing the “word”.

My early days as a newly committed Christian in the 70s were in what was then called a Christian fundamentalist charismatic fellowship. I think such churches avoid the word fundamentalist now as it has been hijacked by others who are less than user friendly!

That particular church had a strong bible teaching basis and gave me lots to be thankful for. However some things, which everyone else took for granted, really grieved my spirit.

In the beginning I didn’t entirely understand the root of what caused my grief, but one thing I truly learned from the Lord, was that is I must never simply follow the crowd.  Crowd followers usually do so for fear of being left behind on their own. Personally, I hated being left behind, alone, but the usual crowd decisions left me with a hollow feeling inside, and I really didn’t like that feeling at all.

I KNEW THAT FOLLOWING THE HERD, WHILST SEEMING SAFE, WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE PLACE WHERE GOD WANTED ME TO BE. I knew that God didn’t want me to hide behind the skirts of the majority. For better or for worse,  I also wanted to be seen by God for who I was, not for who I hid behind. This sounds stupid because God obviously knew everything about me, and everyone else, but there is within man a certain delusion about such things. I needed to know that I was honest to God for being ME not for being a clone.

I desperately wanted to personally interact with God. However, as I watched, herd decisions with no questions asked, seemed to be the order of the day. If the leaders made a decision, it was duly regarded by the herd as the will of God, and everyone was swept along in that direction! If I asked someone what they thought about these things, the only response seemed to be a repetition of the church leadership stand. For myself, I needed to understand what God thought about these things, not just men. Unfortunately such curiosity merely brought trouble, and more derogatory labels got added to my name.

At that time there was a lot of teaching about, “covering”, a fake scriptural doctrine that meant everyone should have “authority” over their heads in order to be safe from the devil’s attacks or from demonic deception etc. This doctrine is still around although using other titles. Covering meant that our ability to discern the will of God should be submitted to the “anointed” leaders, who would be the ones to direct our paths. Obedience to the leaders is equated to obeying God. Questioning the wisdom of the Leaders equated to rebellion against God. Being a fundamentalist church we always carried out such things with great enthusiasm. The church had to collectively demonstrate that they worked to New Testament teaching, or so they thought.

It was as if when a man became a Christian, he almost immediately took leave of his common sense, he abdicated his own God given decision making process in favour of an outsider doing it for him. The church was a herd of sheep, but in reality their leader was not Christ, he was a just a man.

The herd saw it as obedience to God. I saw it as blatant idolatry towards a leadership which had actively dethroned God.

I recall one particular elder’s and leader’s meeting I attended. A decision needed to be made, but there was something clearly wrong going on in the discussion, and dissent was being subtly suppressed via the use of hierarchical authority. Some there were not at all happy, others were piously and proudly compliant, which is what the hierarchy wanted. They needed backing to justify their decision. I unfortunately asked awkward questions which they were reluctant to answer. Then one of the acolytes of the hierarchy made an outrageous statement. “We stand in fear of God if we oppose these men who are the Lord’s anointed.” The Elders looked mightily pleased as their superiority over the rest of us was thus proclaimed. Everyone went fearfully silent, not knowing what to do.

I then said. “I don’t stand in fear of God for opposing these men, I stand in fear of God if I don’t follow my conscience, and say what God wants me to say.”  That did not make me popular in the least, fortunately others then woke up, and the dishonesty was thwarted, at least on that occasion. The problem is that so many believe without foundation that these men can make no mistake because they are the, “anointed of God.”

Yesterday, as we reminisced over past experiences, my wife said to me, “you do not need faith to follow the herd“. This is a very interesting statement. What she meant was that it required no faith in God. Following the herd was an act of very shallow faith, in the herd, and in the one who led the herd. Running with the herd was safe. Nobody could ask whether you had independent thought in any situation. No real decision was ever required, no choice was made, no risk was taken. Individual responsibility and individual decision making, before God, was considered an act of disunity and brought accusations of pride and rebellion. This situation is common in many churches which I have attended.

Following the herd is hailed as an act of faith in church circles. Obedience to God is defined by our obedience to the leaders, those apparently “anointed of God”.

So what does it all boil down to?

We have all heard the biblical precept, “Faith comes from hearing the word“.

Yet watching many Christians it is far more true to say, ” FAITH COMES BY HEARING THE HERD

Basically, the average christian has no clue when it comes to discerning the direction when God speaks. This is why there are so many denominations, people would rather stick with the herd and follow a man, than follow God.

God is invisible but a pastor is visible.

God is silent but a pastor can be heard.

God cannot be known but a pastor can be known.

If I do what the herd are doing it must be God’s will.

So go find a decent church and the pastor will tell you what God wants you to know. Once you find a decent Pastor then stick with him, run with the herd. As long as you follow the leading of the Pastor you will stay out of trouble and please God. That is what you will find in all popular and successful churches.

Unless of course you get some upstart who asks awkward questions. That was me, until they threw me out on my ear.

Sadly the way of the herd is the broad way that many travel to destruction.

The narrow way to life is a very lonely path with few companions. I would still prefer it though.

So make your choice, does faith come by hearing the herd, or does faith come by hearing the word?

December 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments