Many professing Christians regularly compete and fall all over themselves trying to “outdo” each other in order to gain favoritism, preeminence and the high seats in the church. But there are not supposed to be any competition, favoritism, preeminence and high seats in the church. How do we know this?
1) Favoritism Among Christians is Forbidden in the Bible
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality [favoritism]. 1 Tim 5:21
In addition to giving much favoritism to themselves, ungodly leaders also bestow much favoritism on those who have money and/or skills that they think will be useful in promoting their agendas. This too is entirely forbidden in the Scriptures. See James 2: 1-9.
2) Preeminence Among Christians is Forbidden in the Bible
I have already written much about this in other articles, but briefly for now let me mention that in 3rd John, we see that Diotrophes loved to be first. He loved the preeminence and because of this caused all kinds of trouble in the church.
In 3John 9-11, we read the words of the Apostle John:
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, received us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbids them that would, and casts them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that does good is of God: but he that does evil hath not seen God.
3) Competition Among Christians is Forbidden in the Bible
In Matt 23:8, we see that we have One Master Christ and we are all brothers. This is a horizontal statement of our equality as Christians. Not only does this verse not establish a vertical hierarchy among us, it topples to dust any such idea.
The Bible tells us not to consider or think of ourselves more highly than we ought to:
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom 12:3
Anyone engaging in competitive behavior certainly demonstrates that they think more highly of themselves than they ought to since they think that they are better suited for a particular “job” than everyone else.
Also, with popular worldly concepts like the Dove Awards, “Christian” music charts and “Christian” best sellers lists, most professing Christians have become conditioned to think and act just like the world since these type of competitive practices are exactly what the world does. It is impossible to engage in the activity of trying to outdo your brothers and sisters and at the same time obey the command to not considering yourself more highly than you ought to. These concepts are mutually exclusive and contradictory and therefore do not mix.
Furthermore, it is impossible to submit to one another in reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21) as the Bible commands while simultaneously attempting to beat each other in some type of competition or battle for preeminence. Christianity is not a game or competition to be won. It is a fight of faith and a course of love and compassion to be completed. Are we not called to be a peculiar people as well as salt and light? Or are we called to blend in and be just like the world?
Further complicating matters, massive competition is not only encouraged in most churches, but an atmosphere of competition is usually nurtured and maintained so that the resident authoritarian can hand pick church workers from the “best of the best” or “the cream of the crop”. Christians regularly jump through al kinds of fiery hoops of manmade rules and regulations in order to please such ungodly leaders. The more these unwary souls submit to the agenda of men, the “higher” they ascend to the top of the pot to be considered the cream of the crop. This places them in great danger of being selected and ushered into the inner circle within the belly of the “beast”.
The worldly “survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog” approach to church life is not only utterly foreign to the Scriptures, but it is totally ungodly and totally lacking love and therefore causes much pain, suffering and rejection among church members. Churches that fool with the dangerous practice of fostering competition, usually end up with some of the most selfish, unscrupulously competitive, self-exalting and self-promoting individuals known on the face of the earth rather than humble servants of God. This is not at all surprising since this very same attitude and behavior is often taught and modeled from the pulpit as well.
We see in 2 Cor 13:11 that we are to be of one mind and one understanding and we are to live in peace. But there is no peace and no unity of mind in competition. There is only selfishness and selfish agendas, which always work contrary to God and to the good of a church as a whole.
In 1 Cor 1:10, we see that there are to be no factions or divisions among us:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor 1:10
Well, each time someone seeks to be exalted, they seek to set up a mini faction where they rule and rein to some degree over those foolish enough to follow them. It is no secret that many senior pastors bestow massive favoritism upon themselves as well as to those that they are partial to. Even though we have so many bad examples running around all over the place, this is no excuse for us to do the same.
4) High Seats in the Church Are Forbidden in the Bible
Virtually the entire chapter of Matt 23 exposes the ungodly practices of the Pharisees. We have many modern day Pharisees today running all over the landscape. And being Pharisees, they chase the honor and recognition of men instead of caring much about what God thinks of them, if they really care at all.
Speaking to the Pharisees, In Matt 23: 4-8, Jesus said:
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
Toppling the massively popular idea of titles, badges and honors, Jesus also said in the very next verses of the same chapter (verses 8-12):
But be not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Jesus covered all the title bases. In fact, the word Rabbi here can be translated as "master teacher". So we are basically not to call any man (in the church) by a title. We should all be content to be known as brothers and sisters. But that is not enough for the self-exalted. Certainly, knowing someone's role is fine but titles like "Senior Pastor" and "Reverend" are not only unbiblical, they are ridiculous.
Reverend is probably the worst title that men can take unto themselves. This is because the word reverend is reserved as a description of God Himself. Yet many men flock to be called by this name. The word reverend in Ps 111:9 can actually be translated “awesome”. So when someone runs around having everyone call him “Reverend So-and-so", people are actually calling him “awesome”. The Bible makes it clear that there is one and only one most holy and reverend (awesome) God.
He sent redemption unto His people: He hath commanded His covenant for ever: holy and reverend is His name. Ps 111:9
Before I studied the Bible for myself, I had no idea this kind of unbiblical garbage was going on. I just swallowed the traditions and teachings of men hook, line and sinker. Not so any more thanks be to God.
In conclusion, competition, preeminence and high seats are actually all different forms of favoritism as well. Without question favoritism in the Body of Christ is one of the major problems that we face as the Church. This is because, in addition to the fallout caused by any transgression of God’s holy commands, competition is one of the underlying causes of the rise of so many false teachers. Competition in the church is one of the many nasty products or bad fruits of authoritarianism in the church. And, with a competitive environment being the preferred mode in so many churches, things are not likely going to change on a large scale anytime soon. Typically, only those of the truth, those who have died to themselves and their selfish agendas will obey the Scriptural mandate to show no favoritism. These are those who understand well that showing no favoritism does not only apply to others, but even more importantly, we must show no favoritism to ourselves as well.
Want a challenge? If the Lord leads, try getting the ideas in this article across to a “senior” pastor. Can you guess what to expect? I can. Unless something changes, in about 99.5% of the cases you will meet with great resistance and trouble. You may even be blackballed which is pretty typical. That is because these concepts are usually foreign to the vast majority of “senior” pastors today. These guys are usually so set in their ways and so convinced that they have learned all that they will even need to know about the Bible at "Seminary" or "Bible College", that there is nothing you can possibly teach them. How sad, especially for those who are foolish enough to follow these fools. On rare occasions you may actually find a rare gem, a man of humilty who will hear, listen and repent. I pray that you find just such a man of God to share the truth with.
For us to remain useful to God, we must all be reachable and therefore teachable. Let's begin with me. If you disagree with my views, I welcome you to bring me correction from God's Word. A righteous man loves correction. If I have made any errors that can be proven and substantiated from the Bible, I will not only stand corrected, I will publicly apologize and amend my statement.