Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Elitism -Impaired Vision Through Filters by Milt Rodriguez

“When the days grew closer for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he was determined to continue his journey to Jerusalem. So he sent messengers on ahead of him. On their way they went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people didn’t welcome him, because he was determined to go to Jerusalem.

When his disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them, as Elijah did? But he turned and rebuked them, and they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56

Elitism: the Corporate Filter

Now we come to one of the most powerful filters around: elitism. What exactly is elitism? You could define it this way: the consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group. It’s when a group starts believing their own reviews and begins thinking that they are special. This filter is a little different than most because of it’s corporate nature. It’s a group mentality and a group deception. And it tends to go something like this:

We are special because we have deeper revelation or more accurate doctrine than all of those other groups.
We are special because we are more anointed with gifts, instances of healing, and miracles.
We are special because we follow so-and-so leader or preacher and they have more revelation, are more anointed, or sell more books than others.
We have a special calling and place in history that no one has ever had.
We are special because we know the Lord better than most and love the brethren more than most.
We are not really that interested in anything or anyone outside of our own church or movement.
We love all true believers but we are much more advanced spiritually than they are.
We look strange to most Christians because of our maturity level in Christ.
We follow so-and-so because he is the only man God has truly raised up for this generation.

I have personally heard all of the above statements (and more) come out of the mouths of some of God’s people. Once I was at a conference and there was a tiny group there that was spouting off some of these statements with reckless abandonment. No one could stand to be around them. It was a very graphic demonstration of what my co-worker Frank Viola calls the B.O. of the body. Everyone else knows you have it except you! And it really does stink to high heaven.

Of course, this is the basis for every sect, denomination, and just about every movement within institutionalism. The “we are superior to you” attitude is the very foundation for every denomination and that includes the groups that call themselves “non-denominational”. They have camped out around a particular truth, person, or way of doing things and told everyone within and without the group that this is the best (and really) only way. But this particular malady is not only found within the institutional church.

Elitism in Groups Outside the Religious System

This spiritually cancerous filter isn’t only found within the institutions. It is also widely spread throughout house churches, simple churches, missional churches, emergent churches, and organic churches. I have personally been in one house church and one organic church where this disease had been propagated as leaven in a lump of dough. This attitude caused untold damage to the saints of God and resulted in isolation, broken marriages, division, immorality, poor health and much more. Some have even left their faith completely.

Some of the history of groups throughout the centuries that stood outside the religious system is tainted with such stories. Some of these had awesome revelations of Christ with wonderful teachings and strong churches that dared to walk the line of the centrality of Christ and His Cross. And left all to follow Him so that He would have the fulfillment of His eternal purpose. But they fell into the trap of believing they were special and therefore superior to the rest of God’s people. That heart attitude will kill a group or movement faster than anything I have seen.

Safeguards Against Elitism

Now we all think that what we are currently doing is the best way, right? Of course we do or we wouldn’t be doing it! I honestly believe that the way that I am going is the way that God has directed me and firmly will hold to this position no matter what. I would be a fool to do otherwise. However, I cannot say that “my way” of following Christ is superior, therefore I AM SUPERIOR. This is the best way FOR ME. I cannot say if it is the best way for you or not. For me, authentic organic church is the only way to go. But that doesn’t make me superior to anyone. There must be grace, acceptance, and freedom within the Church of the living God.

So here are a few ways that we can help to safeguard ourselves against the plague of elitism:

    * Promote and encourage a healthy attitude of love and acceptance for all of God’s people.
    * Learn to abide in Him so that His humility is displayed through us
    * Visit other groups, attend conferences, and read books by other authors than those of your own movement
    * Develop and maintain relationships with believers outside your own little group
    * Always think the best of other believers and treat them as you would want to be treated

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