About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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The Christian Elite


In Galatians 4:1 through 4 the apostle Paul uses the terms "children of God" and "sons of God."  The context clearly shows us how to understand these two terms.  Paul says that in Old Testament times Israel was like a child, under the guardianship of the Law of Moses.  Now in New Testament times, since the death and resurrection of Jesus, Israel has come of age.  Their inheritance is no longer held in trust for them.  They can now receive what has been promised them because they are no longer children, but sons.  The text is referring to the Jews, no one else.      


It's been brought to my attention that a book is being written based on this passage.  Supported by visions, the author doesn't seem to understand the contextual meaning to Paul's usage of these two terms.  The author says that Paul is teaching a two-tier class structure within the Christendom.  They are, children, and sons.  Children are ordinary Christians.  Sons are an elite group of Christians who are privileged with special insight.  I won't try to refute this interpretation.  There's no hint of such thinking n this passage.  That's not the point to this article anyway. 


My point is this.  As early as the first century, some Christians claimed special status, having exclusive spiritual insight.  Much of this insight comes from visions, dreams, and revelations that often conflict with a good hermeneutical approach to the Bible.     


As a young Christian I encountered such a group in the early 1970's, and even in my youth I knew this thinking wasn't right.  This group viewed themselves as being a select group of  "manifested sons of God."  They claimed to have exclusive revelation from God, and twisted the Scripture to support their thinking.  They believed that they would not die, but would be transformed into their glorified bodies before Jesus returned to earth.  The rest of us ordinary Christians would have to suffer death the old fashioned way like everyone else.  Ironically, the leader of the group died in a plane crash.     


I don't think Jesus has any super-saint disciples.  Paul warns us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought in Romans 12:3.  That's why I've never liked the term "cutting edge" when applied to certain Christians or churches.  "Cutting edge" implies superiority in my thinking.  It's plain to me that Jesus wants us to be humble servants, which doesn't sound like a special elite class of Christians to me.   As it was with Lucifer, so it is with some Christians.  The desire to be special, elite, and above the rest is very temping.  It's a fundamental concept in the "religion of self."  As many of us have part time jobs to supplement our income, so many Christians have part time religions to supplement their religious needs.  The religion of self is one such part time religion.   By the way, there are other part time religions Christians get involved in too, like the new age religion, eastern mysticism, humanism, and others.         


If anyone had the right to be exclusive and superior it would be Jesus.  He's in an exclusive group of one.  Take a look at who He chose to entrust His gospel to.  They were a bunch of ordinary guys.  I could be wrong, but I tend to picture Peter as being a bit overweight, a little unkempt, shaggy hair and beard, and maybe not so sensitive to his wife.  Anyway, back to my point.  Jesus could have compromised Himself and hung out with the Pharisees.  They were the privileged elite in those days.  He might have been able to cozy up to the cool crowd and start his new brand of religion and gain both political and religious power, but He didn't.  He hung out with ordinary people, and in some cases, less than ordinary people, even undesirable people.  Boy, that makes me feel a bit better.  I'm pretty ordinary.      


The apostle Paul followed in the steps of Jesus.  If anyone had the right to be elite, it would be him too.  He just considered himself to be a servant.   A servant isn't one of the elite.  They eat and sleep in the little servant's shack out back.   I'm sure Paul would have liked a shack out back.  It would have seemed like a mansion to him in comparison to the rat infested  dungeon he was imprisoned in for so long.  I can't imagine trying to sleep with all sorts of creepy things crawling through your hair.


Because we have trusted our lives with Jesus, God views us as being totally righteous, even as He Himself is righteous, even though we're far from righteous.  I'm certainly glad for that.  That being said, we're still fallen and frail, a product of our sinful nature.  If it's not one thing that tries to drag us down, it's another thing.  So none of us should think of ourselves more highly than we ought.  None of us should claim to be the elite.  Let's be humble ordinary Christians, demonstrating the unordinary life of Jesus.   Let's not be like Lucifer who said, "I will be like the Most High."  That's just another way of saying, "I am pretty special, look at me."   



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