Many have. This is a serious issue for the church because the church is meant to be a place of sanctuary. It is supposed to be a place where people can come to find peace, rest and joy in the praise and worship of the Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. But there are many who have been hurt by the church and this should not be so. In this section of scripture Jesus explains how some people are hurt and what He will do about it.
Ministers Gone Berserk
It is those in positions of authority and responsibility who often are the ones that hurt the members of the flock. When they use their positions for power or personal gain they do so at the expense of the church and the people of the Lord.
Jesus spoke of the ministers, teachers and preachers and all who occupy positions of authority who are the servants of God in this section. He shows that some will misbehave saying, “…if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. (Verses 45-46)
Now we probably don’t see too many ministers of the church beating people up or getting on the booze, although it would not surprise me if it has and does happen. However the point Jesus is making is not just about those things. What he is saying is that they are acting like the people of the world. They call them themselves Christians and then do all manner of evil and in addition they abuse those in their care to do so. This is the major issue that Jesus is making here.
When those in a position of authority in the church abuse that God given authority, it is the people in the church who are hurt and who suffer. When these false ministers take advantage of their flock, as they do, through false teaching and wrong doctrine to benefit only themselves, then they have as good as beat up the other servants as Jesus describes it.
Who’s the Boss?
In this section the servants say, “‘My master is delayed in coming…” and so they use that as an opportunity to take over and usurp the authority of the master. But who is really in charge? Who is it that these servants are really serving when they usurp the authority of their master and take it as if it were their own?
Well in the church clearly they are not serving the Lord, so who else are they serving? It can only be the devil! Think about it. The Bible talks about anti-Christs, not one but many as the Apostle John wrote, “Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.” (1 John 2:18) Now John further goes on to say, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22)
These ministers who usurp the power of Jesus and take it as their own and who use false teaching and false doctrine to abuse the flock of God are in reality antichrists. How? Because through their lies they deny the Father and the Son? How do they deny them? By ignoring the authority of the Master and setting up their own set of rules not based on the truth but based on whatever benefits them. They deny the Son and the Father their rightful place as head of the Church and set themselves up as the authority and head of the church. They may say they are serving Jesus, but their actions say otherwise.
The Lord’s Judgement
The worst of this situation is that the flock gets fleeced. The flock suffers because of such false ministers and their false teachings. As in the scripture we see that the servants were beaten, so too they suffer today.
But we also see that the Lord does and will return at an hour that is unexpected. When he does he will deal with these false ministers. They will be punished and they will be put out with the unfaithful. That is, they will be treated as an unbeliever, or worse than an unbeliever for they will receive an additional punishment for their bad behaviour.
These are people who should have known better. These people should have been feeding the flock, not fleecing it. They should have been providing the teachings that would help the flock of the Lord to grow and mature in the ways of God. Thus they will be punished and deemed worse than an unbeliever.
Doing the Job Properly
We also see that the Lord will reward those who do what they have been instructed. Don’t get me wrong here, not all ministers in the church are bad, indeed most are not. Most have a real desire to serve the Lord, but there are some who go astray and that is bound to happen.
Those who obey the command of God and who do feed the Lord’s flock, tend the Lord’s sheep and care for the people of the Lord will receive a blessing. Here is what Jesus says, “And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. (Verses 42-44)
The Lord will bless the honest and righteous servant who is obedient to the command given to him to minister. He will give him greater authority by setting that servant over all of his possessions.
A Final Warning
In the end we see that the Lord gives a warning to his ministers. He says, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.” (Verse 48)
If the Lord gives you much he will require much in return. And even men will see that if you have been given much then they too will expect much. We see trial by media every day where those to whom much is given are arrested, trialled and convicted in the court of public opinion. Those in positions with a duty of care are expected to live up to that requirement and take all the care and precautions with due diligence to ensure what is right is done.
How much more then will these things be required of those whom the Lord has given a position of authority? How much more when the ministers of the church are not dealing with matters of the world but matters of eternal salvation? How important then is it for a minister of the Lord to use the power given to him and to utilise the word of God for what is right and in obedience to the Lord?
I think the matter speaks for itself. If you find yourself in a position of authority in the church, then you must remember this teaching and ensure that the ministry you have been given to oversee is done properly and in obedience to God and the Lord Jesus Christ, not to satisfy yourself, but to minister to God’s people.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu taken by Miguel Ugalde)