David PotterOctober 12th, 2007
John 21:22 (NIV)
What is that to you?…Follow me!
What do you do if you see someone do something that you know is going to produce negative consequences for them and maybe for those around them? That’s the topic of today’s reading.
Today’s scripture comes from the passage when Jesus is visiting the disciples for the last time before the book of Acts when He ascends and He is asking Peter whether he loves Him as John looks on. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him and each time he answers that he does. Jesus finishes by saying to follow Him. As Peter looks around and sees John, he asks, "What about him?" Jesus’ response is to just be concerned with himself.
Why did Peter ask about the other disciple? And why did Jesus say to not worry about it?
The primary interpretation has been that God has a different call on each of us and we should not try to compare the calling He has on us with the calling He has on someone else. The author of today’s reading extends that to also mean to learn to identify ‘who owns what.’ In other words, we may observe someone else doing something that we think is incorrect or even harmful. How far do we go to deal with that situation?
Over the course of the last 10 or so years, I have had some trouble dealing with this question due to a factor that has not been mentioned yet. What do you do if the other person is in a position of church leadership and their actions, attitudes, or behavior affect not just themselves or their family but also numerous other people alongside of whom you also labor?
I’ve always believed that leaders, particularly in the church, should be held to a higher standard since they have a greater influence. Their actions and attitudes will most certainly sway and affect a much greater number of people than the average person. This issue bothered me so much that I ended up spending some time talking with a counselor who made some very interesting statements. People who are attracted to leadership, particularly in the church, have their own set of issues that they deal with often times which are the very reason they are attracted to church leadership. It is these very issues which often cause their attitudes and actions to be no better than the average man. His point was that I really shouldn’t be placing them on a pedestal or having a higher expectation of their attitudes and behavior than I do for anyone else in the church. My response should be to pray and to trust that God will take care of it.
This is a very difficult thing for me to accept, but it certainly leads in the direction of greater relationship with God. Who am I that I should be the guardian of all that is good and right? That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
Still, what is our responsibility as members of a church? Where is the line to be drawn? I haven’t figured that out yet, but I am learning to trust God more. I suppose that is the point.