A Kingdom of Honor

By way of introduction, this is one of the posts by the late Jay Ferris that has a special place in my heart. As anyone who knew Jay, knew he loved conversation and sought it at every turn. Often he was grieved with distractions that prevented conversation from getting past “news, weather and sports,” as well as the kind that happens when people do not want to be relational, but in control. I remember one such time, and from across the room seeing his face light up when he got a revelation for why the conversation was not getting off the ground. Later he pulled me aside and excitedly got me helping him with a video to illustrate a point. (Yes, that is my finger in the video below.) :-)
So without further ado, I present the following. Keep in mind this is a re-post, so I took the liberty of reprinting the reader comments that came in afterward. These are very rich, so I would encourage you to read them as well!   – Pamela

A Kingdom of Honor

In our last post we spoke about the priority of being over doing. In this post we want to explore the difference between the ‘authority of doing’ and the ‘authority of being.’

I’ll begin by cutting to the chase. Authority of being works by honor. Authority of doing works by imposition. One is passive, and the other is proactive.

Jesus said in His kingdom that we don’t rule as the Gentiles do: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27.

In short, there is a difference as to how authority works.  Authority of being is authority for living more than doing.  It is perhaps best seen in families or households where the first commandment with promise is normative, “Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and your days be long upon the land.”

Honor releases the best that is in a person.  That being true, “the commandment with promise” has an even broader application than just between parents and children. The following 12 second video provides a graphic demonstration of how it works:

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The drop of water represents the best that is in another person.  Just as with the bead of water which is contained by the surface tension of the water, when we touch another person with honor, their tension is released and their content flows in the direction from which the touch has come.  When we touch another person with honor, we release the best that is in them to flow in our direction.

“Jesus left there and went to his home town, and when the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘How does he do miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter, Mary’s son? Are not his brothers and sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ And he did not do many miracles there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” Mark 6:1-5 — also see Matthew 13:56-58

While Matthew attributes his unwillingness to do miracles in this context to their lack of faith, the greater context of both Mark and Matthew is lack of honor.

The kingdom of God is best seen in how we relate to one another – how we are with one another. The kingdom of God does not look like a lecture hall so much as an intimate conversation among those who love each other.  It is in the context of speaking the truth in love (i.e. ’being in love”) with one another that we grow up into Him who is the Head, even Christ. This conversation can be as numerically small as two people, where Christ, (the best within us) is in the midst, or a gathering of many people. In either case, it is the honoring of one another that releases the best that is in the midst of them.

Kingdom authority operates in such a way as to release that conversation, and not to replace it with a lecture by doing all the talking, or imposing its will or perspective on the gathering, or on another person. For this to happen, however, those gathered together need to be sensitive to, or discerning of the authority that is present in their midst for such a conversation to take place.

A conversation full of people who are preoccupied with their own agendas never gets off the ground.

As an illustration of how this works, lets take a look at 1 Corinthians 16:15, 16: “You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.”  

You see, authority in the Kingdom of God is not about over doing, but over seeing.

Please note that the above passage is not an admonishment to the household to Stephanas to lord it over the saints at Corinth who are younger in the Lord than they are.  Rather it places the responsibility on those who are younger in the faith to be aware and yielding to those who are senior in time, experience and service.  It is this recognition, submission, and honor that releases the authority of the kingdom to the benefit of the saints in a place. In this context it is not about titles, like elder or overseer, it is about the facts of life often inherent in spiritual seniority of time and place.

This operative principle of Kingdom authority works, not only in this larger sense, but also in the smaller sense of the Truth present in a very small conversation. Each of us who are a party to a conversation brings something of Christ to that conversation, and can discern this Christ who is in the others present – from the least to the greatest. Each one has something to contribute of Him, Who is the Head, and each one of us has a responsibility to discern and submit to the others present in the conversation. Otherwise the result is simply a conversation that is usurped by a lecture, a lecture coming from the one who is least sensitive to the presence of Christ in the midst, and so steps in by placing himself or herself in that place of preeminence – that place that belongs only to Him.

This kind of over doing authority has been the rule in what’s been calling itself “church” for thousands of years by now, beginning, at least with the “leadership” or authority of Diotrephes, in 3rd, (4th) John.

The most sure and certain way to spoil a small group or any conversation, for that matter, is to talk too much. This is a life killer, just like one who takes the Lord’s supper without discerning the body of Christ present at the table. This not only results in meetings that do more harm than good, but also in judgment, 1st Corinthians 11:17-34. For present purposes, let’s just call it “conversational gluttony,” even pollution.

As lovers, even lovers in training we are sensitive to what’s in the hearts of those around us. Love listens!

Love!

This entry was posted in J.Ferris: Church, J.Ferris: Reposts with Notes, J.Ferris: Top Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Kingdom of Honor

  1. Pamela says:

    The following are some helpful comments that followed Jay’s original post:

    Incredible insight here….something we all need to ponder and practice. Love listens…is really true! Too many talkers who take charge and don’t make room for the other voices. It is dishonoring to the body…it quenches the spirit…it can wound and kill the life of Christ that is growing in others. I hope this message will be read by Many. Thanks!!! – Jayne Otterson

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    I agree, this is such an important subject! Where is honor learned? Most of what I learned about honor was from living in a chicken coop, where honor is imposed by cocks with rank or mouth (or both). But as it is in the physical, love has to be more than talk in order to impart the life of Christ, it has to be in look and touch too! I appreciate your prophetic message, Jay, that the legality of this is in the revelation that we are born into a family, and not just a family of siblings, but of fathers and mothers too. And that sadly, because of our past dysfunction and wounding, our christian fellowship today is still playing it safe when it comes to spiritual intimacy, and it is quenching the potential of Christ’s increase :( So yes, thank you, and I too hope this message will be ready by many!! :) – Pamela Spock

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    Jay, “Love listens” and when Love listens that is honor, that is Love and that is honoring the expression of Christ in one another. When we look upon the faces of our family in Christ, we see Christ. Splendid post, my brother! – Kat Huff

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    Jay ,These insights are wonderful beyond words. An observation seemed to come to me. For those who are apart from Christ, what you have shared must be an unfathomable mystery. So much dysfunction in the world would be eliminated if people simply understood this kind of love. An angry, abusive parent directing harsh words or slaps toward a child cannot elicit from the little one the sort of honor that releases the best in that parent any more than such treatment draws out the best in the child. Such a brutal, damaging cycle! It is a LOVING Father’s touch that draws us to Him. Many of us can name the people through whom He expressed that love, those who introduced us to Christ Jesus. It should be the greatest desire in us to touch those around us with the love of Christ in a way that releases their best…that part of each person which is made in His image and likeness. Praying our Father will those who read your wisdom here to touch the world with His love, that others may know Him. – Leah Randall

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    Everyones comments expresses much of the words in my heart ….Thank you Jay for not only sharring these words of life but living them towards others . “You are what you teach and this imparts life and healing. LOVE ! – Millie Spock

  2. Edward A Renaud says:

    Excellent!!!

  3. Thanks for re-posting this, Pamela!

    Do you think there is also an element of male and female in this? In the sense that men tend to approach conversation intellectually, whereas women approach emotionally. I ask because it’s been my experience as an intuitive feeling type, I often relate more easily to women than men. Whereas my gender tends to come together in an adversarial or competitive way, exchanging quips as if to measure up an opponent. Women on the other hand, in leading with the heart, emote / empathize, etc. and the connection is effortless … at least, that’s the impression I have.

    Jack

    • Pamela says:

      Hi Jack,

      It’s nice to hear from you here :-) Your question is interesting, and I hope that someone else may pop in to give some thoughts, as I don’t know if mine will speak into it wholly. I think that our differences, including those as male and female (which aren’t always along gender lines, as you noted) do become less of an issue in an environment of honor. Actually, I am usually quite aware (as a woman, especially I think) when in an opposite environment. Prejudices abound, and women tend to be overlooked or listened to with half an ear. But there is a lot of flesh manifesting, too, from all sides. So it’s hard to sort all that stuff out.

      I think the answer is always when we are in the presence of another, or gathered in a group, is to lean into Christ, regardless from what gender He is speaking through. The more this is the attitude of all, the more chance there is for meaningful conversation where Christ will be imparted in a complete way.

      Seeing that God is both male and female, we of course need to hear Him through both genders, and through more than one. In what is calling itself “church” nowadays, with their fleshly hierarchal structure, it is obviously not the case. Jay is not speaking from this standpoint of course, but I do think he is reminding us in this article of the wisdom of the aged (i.e. spiritual fathers and mothers). This is another group that I feel suffers from prejudices, largely ignored for the louder, more “hip” social-media voices of the younger and less experienced. It’s unfortunate because it’s when we are properly connected to these fathers and mothers in the Lord (it starts with honor) that the younger sons and daughters are able to mature to a place they can become fathers and mothers themselves.

  4. Michael says:

    Thanks, Pam. The older I get, the more I tend to listen. I think that true elders (and lovers) in the body of Christ listen more than they talk. I seriously wonder about bloggers that feel they have to publish something every day. You don’t publish often, but it is worth reading when you do. Thank you.

    ​”Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. ​Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” (Eccl 5:1-2, ESV2011)

    • Pamela says:

      I think you spoke rightly there, Michael!
      I sure wish that I learned the art of listening much earlier in life. There are spiritual songs coming from places that I didn’t know could even produce sound, let alone such beautiful melodies :-)

  5. Vinny says:

    Really good stuff here. learning to observe the authority/God in the room no matter which person it is coming from honors God man and us all as a supra organism some call the body of Christ or humanity     May we pay more attention to this I hope to.
    Its no coincidence I have been observing the Pecking order in the chicken coop the past few days…..we are much like that :-(
    I also think of the responsibility on US to recognize this and allow ourselves to be persuaded by these wise folks which is a better way to read Heb 13:17 by the way ;-) and lean into the Authority/Christ they have to share. <3

  6. Ana says:

    Great repost. Great reminder to me…to stop and listen. As an extrovert, some times I tend to jump right in and talk, talk, talk. “from the least to the greatest. Each one has something to contribute of Him.” is so true. Even those that have been believers have a something to learn from newly converted lovers of Christ. Thanks Pam!!

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