Beware of Substitutions for the Real Thing

Here’s a new release! Written in the wise and witty style that Jay Ferris is known for, the following letter he wrote to a friend on the subject of needing “bishops,” is well worth the read. Amen!

We really ought to check our titles with the sheriff when we come into town, and strap on Love. – J. Ferris

Dear _______ ,

You have a bishop. His Name is Jesus, and, boy…does He know how to bish!

Perhaps I could stick my oar in once more with this:

The only thing that we have of value is the revelation of Jesus Christ that comes down from above, in paraphrase: “You are blessed Peter, because flesh and blood has not revealed who I am to you, but my Father in heaven.” 

Jesus said he would build His Church on the revelation of who He is — which is a revelation that comes from above. 

Notice, He did not say that He would build His Church on information about Him, but on revelation of Him. 

Here’s the problem as I see it. Each of us only has a part of that revelation. It’s all about Jesus, but our individual hearts and minds are not big enough to take it (Him) all in. So we only know in part. And while some of the revelation overlaps (that is, we have it in common) a lot of the revelation we have is very personal. Our problem is, we tend to reject a revelation that differs from our own.

Given this disability to wholly see, and see correctly, what we need is something to hold us together in the absence of a common vision. This “glue” is called the love of God — and it is the kind that was demonstrated on the Cross and is good for enemies.

It is quite clear that this is a lot to ask, even command. So sadly we sacrifice the revelation of Jesus that is bigger than any one of us — the revelation that causes Him to increase, and ourselves to decrease — and we substitute for it the vision of the leader. Call him Church Planter, Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Reverend, Rector, Elder, Father, Elder Brother, Mother, and so on, and it’s still the image and vision of mannot the revelation of Jesus.

We really ought to check our titles with the sheriff when we come into town, and strap on Love. There is no telling what we might see in each other, and having seen and loved the Jesus in each other, who we might help the world to see and believe in. 

At least, that’s the way I think it’s supposed to work, if John 17 isn’t just “whistling Dixie.” (Perhaps you can excuse me for that one. I’m now living in the “Bible Belt!”)

Yours in Christ,


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