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The Equality of ALL Believers

BY Patricia Backora

One of my favorite places in our area is a historical theme park which


takes you back through time to show you how people lived a couple of
centuries ago. One section is a village of farm buildings and cottages
typical of the period when mass emigration took place to America. Im
only 5 foot 4 in shoes, but my head barely cleared the ceiling rafters of
the old cottages. I could sense the sheer hardship of the period as I
saw the hard-packed dirt floors and my hand felt the hard lumpiness
of the crude beds stuffed with hay. I was shocked at the narrowness of
one rocking chair. A sign warned visitors not to sit on the furniture. It
reminded me that earlier generations were poorly nourished and much
smaller than modern people.
In another section of the park a typical American town of the same
period was reproduced, and admittedly, it appeared much more
prosperous than the Irish village. Lots of antique goods were on
display and there was a much more cheery feel to the place. One
unforgettable attraction was a replica of a sailing ship bound for the
New World. No luxury cruise was enjoyed by Irish immigrants as they

slept below in cramped bunks and subsisted on coarse, meager


rations.
In the parks museum were many exhibits depicting the stark misery
and poverty suffered by Irish immigrants once their storm-tossed
voyage finally ended with their arrival in the New World. Even then
the lot of the poor Irish was hardly improved. A room in a typical
boarding house was depicted, where Irish laborers slept on the floor
packed like sardines after their days of toil.
In the Old World village we toured an old church building which
resembled many meeting houses in the early American period. I was
struck by the grim atmosphere of the place. Narrow, unpadded
benches were partitioned into walled-off, gated compartments.
Worshippers were seated according to their social status. Each section
had four benches facing each other so a particular family or social
clique could face one another and worship together as a separate unit.
I tried to open one pew gate but it wouldnt budge. Evidently, these
could even be locked! I bet many preachers of today wish they could
lock their parishioners in their pews to keep them from slipping away
to catch a ball game on TV!
In the olden days families would sit together in their own pew, literally
sectioned off from all other worshippers by low wooden walls. Talk
about division in the Body of Christ! Ephesians 2:14 speaks of how
Christ has abolished the wall of partition between Hebrew and Gentile
believers in Christ. Did the learned clergymen of that day overlook this
vital scriptural principle in their study? More likely, they turned a blind
eye to it and simply bowed to social pressure to keep earthly social
classes separate in the assembly, contrary to the Word of God.
A whole section of the church was walled off to segregate the poorest
churchgoers from the rest of the assembly, contrary to Scriptural
teaching. Sort of like keeping wild horses in their own corral. Their
seating consisted of narrow, backless benches with little leg room.
Economy seating didnt start with modern airlines!
James 2:1: My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Verse 2: For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring,
in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Verse 3: And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing,
and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor,
Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

Verse 4: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges
of evil thoughts?
Verse 5: Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor
of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath
promised to them that love him?
Verse 6: But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you,
and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are
called?
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced
of the law as transgressors.
It is a clear violation of scriptural command, a SIN, to assign church
seating on the basis of wealth or lack of it. It is a violation of the
Royal Law not to treat your poor neighbor with the same consideration
youd desire for yourself. Even today many preachers forget Jesus was
born to a POOR peasant couple in Galilee, and his foster dad toiled for
a living with his bare hands!
Im reminded of one particular teacher I had in the fourth grade. Mrs.
S. would have a sudden burst of temper whenever one of her students
did something which irked her. She wouldnt hit anybody, shed just
humiliate a kid in front of the whole class to drive home her point.
Back then teachers were insensitive toward special needs children
and thought they were just being lazy for being unable to keep up with
the rest of the class. One girl was poor in academic ability. OR, she
might have been autistic, which meant she was living in a world of
her own, unable to relate to or interact with, the reality of the
classroom.
She got little compassion from Mrs. S. The teacher started yelling at
the poor girl, who looked sad but confused while she was being
scolded. Angrily Mrs. S. shoved the girls desk to a far corner of the
room and told her she was to stay over there, AWAY FROM all the
other students who were willing to work. Fallen human nature loves
segregation because its just another form of self-exaltation and
reassurance that Im better than the other guy. I remember the
segregation of the late 1950s. Buses were segregated. Blacks were
barred from most restaurants. Even gas station restrooms were
segregated.

Just sitting in the poor pews must have made poor parishioners think
they were second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps they
wondered whether there would also be class division up in heaven,
after they died.
The richest parishioners sat in the best section of the church, close to
the pulpit. Their seating was a bit more luxurious, and they even had
nice niches where they could put their hymnbooks and Bibles. Maybe
they were tempted to think their proximity to the preacher brought
them closer to God.
What stood out the most was the pulpit, highly exalted above the rest
of the furniture. The parishioners could see the robed parson high and
lifted up above everybody else, preaching his eloquent sermon from
his lofty pulpit. He would enter a little booth which led to a curving
staircase which led up to it. There he stood, staring down at his flock,
separated from ordinary men. Where is this exemplified in the New
Testament? The apostles ministered AMONG the flock of God, not high
above them (I Thes.2:10; 5:12).
The old meeting house had a stale, musty smell. The whole scene
looked drab and dark, and a chill hung in the air. Musty old traditions
of men have obscured Gods original purpose for His church, which is
to be a close-knit expression of the life and love of Christ, with all His
children relating to one another as humble brethren (Matt.23:8).
Instead of the fragrance of the Living Christ and the warmth of His
love, you can spiritually discern in dead, cold churches a dreary
darkness and a cold absence of the Spirit of God. Where Christ wants
unity and brotherhood in His church, the old flesh nature still craves
division and hierarchy, and the devil looks for ways to sneak it in.
Carnal believers want a clear-cut pecking order with themselves in the
inner circle and those on the outside looking in kept in their place.
Matt.23:8: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even
Christ; and all ye are brethren.
Verse 9: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your
Father, which is in heaven.
Verse 10: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even
Christ.
Verse 11: But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Verse 12: And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he
that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Nothing here about Christ exalting some in His Body to be called


Reverend, Father, or Cardinal.
Jesus gave no command
concerning elevated pulpits, segregated pews, baptismal robes,
offering bags or backwards collars.
My, but the devil loves religion, plain or fancy. No matter how religion
is packaged, its essentially the same old prideful power struggle. For
many centuries black-robed clergy have terrified Gods people with
threats of hellfire for non-tithing or for exercising their God-given right
to examine manmade traditions in the light of Gods Word (I
Thes.5:21). Just the act of being positioned in the pulpit ABOVE pew
Christians paints a picture of subservience to authority of MEN. Many
who found they could no longer bear the tyranny of traditional
ecclesiastical structures sought the answer in small, informal church
gatherings. Surely friendly folding chairs are less scary than the
partitioned pews of long ago! Surely electric guitars are warmer and
fuzzier than musty old organs! Surely were all on a more level
playing field now, since the pastor has come down to earth a little
more! At least hes only doing his climbing exercises at home on his
Stairmaster now!
Sure, its much easier to flee a bad sermon from a folding chair than a
locked pew booth, but in many congregations there remains a feeling
of SPIRITUAL imprisonment to the dead doctrines of men. Free punch
and cookies for the kids doesnt soften the punch to their parents
pocket book when the preacher scares money out of them with hairraising sermons out of Malachi chapter 3. I remember the church
where I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the beginning,
there were less than ten regulars. The sanctuary wasnt finished
yet, so wed all meet together in the back room, sitting in folding
chairs, in a circle. My heart was warmed by the close-knit feeling. I
got a bit wistful when the sanctuary was finished and we sat in a more
traditional way, with us on benches and the pastor behind a pulpit at
the front.
As the church grew, the pastor began to talk about how we should
want to be in the inner circle, and not on the outside looking in.
The more traditional seating had little, if anything, to do with this
about-face in attitude. Thats comparing apples with oranges. Over
time, our church added a couple of youthful elders who wanted their
ideas recognized. Souls out in the community werent being saved fast
enough. Miracles were few and far between. Maybe the leadership
needed to generate more zeal by appealing to the desire of the saints
to be like John, who lay in the bosom of the Master. Oh, Jesus had

other disciples, but they werent quite as close as John. A sermon was
preached about the wayward sheep who wandered off. The Master
found him and tenderly received him back, but first broke his hind leg
so he couldnt run off again. It was then that the sheep had to be
carried by the shepherd and was closer to him than any of the rest of
the flock. There was joy in that sermon as in others, but it was tinged
with a bit of bitterness, so unlike the earliest days when we enjoyed
continual joy and singing in the Lord.
The whole flavor of the church changed, little by little. Input from the
20-something elders was incorporated into church doctrine, just to
please them. THEY decided that our few members would, from here
on out, run a 24-hour prayer chain (chains bind!) which changed
shifts every hour. This guilt-based giving worked a hardship on young
families and strained marriages. Youve heard the old expression: Too
many cooks spoiling the pot. All eyes should have remained on
Christ in you, the Hope of Glory, rather than thinking the solution to
church fruitfulness might lie in some type of segregation of the
assembly into inner circle and outer court members.
Sheep follow those they trust. Even if their shepherds are only
grinning faces on TV. Even if theyre pastors who will never get the
chance to know their flock (Acts 20:31; IThes.5:12). Trusting, nave
sheep are strung along with promises that if they keep proving God
with vows of faith your big blowout blessing will eventually come.
Many are sailing through rough, choppy seas of trial, hoping to make it
safely to the preachers promised land of financial blessing. They see
the preacher and his inner circle chums already safe on the other
shore, living like kings kids. If only they can hang on and ride out
the rough waves of financial adversity just a little longer, surely theyll
make itor WILL they?
Not only are storm-tossed Christians being gently guided through
troubled waters by the carrot approach, but behind them is the
pastors stick, whipping them into submission to authority (whose?)
In the airy-fairy fantasyland of faith theology, confession is
possession. In the dark battlefield of spiritual discernment, satans
most sinister landmines are covered over with pristine truth.
Preachers will present their pitch somewhat like this: Old Testament
scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness, because many of
the OT characters made terrible mistakes we can all learn from (I
Cor.10:6-12). That much is true. But satans subtle trick is to sneak
the lie down your throat on the coat tails of the truth just quoted. Im
reminded of one lady I knew who had a problem getting her dog to

swallow his medicine. So she coated the pill with his favorite food.
Presto! Down went the hated pill and the dog wasnt even aware hed
swallowed it!
Hot on the heels of that awesome truth,
the preacher will say
something like: Just like God punished wicked King Saul for
disobedience, Hell surely punish YOU for withholding His tithe. Aside
from stripping the believer of his righteous standing in Christ, this
statement ignores the fact that not even King Saul owed any tithes,
unless he was raising crops or livestock when he sat on his throne.
Conveniently ignored is the fact the tithe consisted only of EDIBLE
agricultural products (Deut.12:17). The stipulations of the Biblical
tithing law were clearly laid out by God as to what was to be tithed on
and who was to benefit from it! This law was given ONLY to ancient
Israel from Mt. Sinai by Moses (Lev.27:30-34). If anybody will get
punished by God in connection with monetary tithing, it wont be the
poor widow who withheld fifty cents to buy a loaf of day-old bread. It
will be those who KNEW monetary tithing is a false doctrine but
preached it anyway to scare cash out of Gods people. God isnt
impressed by the smoke and mirror tricks preachers pull to confuse
the issue. He outranks every imposter on the face of the earth. All
greedy liars, whether in the pews or the pulpit must answer to God
for sin and rebellion if they refuse to consider their ways and repent!
Sadly, very few ever reach the promised land of huge financial
blessings earned through tithing or generous donations to rich
preachers. Instead of safely landing in their desired harbor, their ship
sinks. Broken bits of it wash ashore on the other side in the form of
ruined lives, dashed hopes, strained marriages, and families driven
deeper into poverty. And instead of tender-hearted concern and
sharing from the kings kids who have strung them along, they get
only cold-shouldering and rebukes like Your faith isnt working
because theres sin in your life and Its not Gods fault, its YOUR
fault!
Sure its not Gods fault, but its SOMEBODYS fault! Like the
disillusioned Irish immigrants who discovered that the streets of the
New World werent paved with gold, many in the Prosperity Movement
have gotten a rude awakening. Things didnt work out because they
labored under a curse. Only at your peril do you change the terms of
your relationship with God from grace through faith in Jesus Christ to
a slick slot machine theology whereby ten dollars in donations gets you
a hundred.
The very idea of trying to earn Gods blessings by
pampering preachers sickens Him. God has promised only poverty to

those who give to the rich (Prov.22:16). Believe me, I found out thats
true after falling for the pitch preachers made in junk mail I received
many years ago! I believe that people who are persuaded by preachers
to make faith covenants with God are gambling with their own
salvation. Why? Because making a works-based covenant with God
displaces the New Covenant of grace through faith in Jesus. He is the
ONLY door through which we can enter in to Gods favor (John 10:7,9).
When we spend hours, days, weeks, obsessing on I gave God a
hundred bucks, hallelujah, I expect ten thousand!, then Jesus and His
finished work on Calvary is no longer our focus. Human effort and
works-for-wages takes center stage until very little else of our
relationship with God remains. God Word warns that the best of our
works done in the flesh are as filthy rags in His sight (Isa.64:6). Giving
out of the love of Christ to TRUE NEEDS merits a reward from God, but
being brainwashed into giving as a result of flawed doctrine is a work
of the flesh God cannot honor. He cannot violate His own Word by
endorsing slot machine theology with a big reward. Going back to the
Law or any part of it carries a curse, not a blessing (Gal.3:10).
Far from ordaining luxury for pulpit ministries and poverty for pew
Christians, it is Gods desire to bring about an EQUALITY of well-being
in the Body of Christ (sounds a bit socialist, doesnt it)?. Jesus wants
church members to share loving concern one for another (2 Cor.8:14).
I have NEVER heard the following scripture preached at any
prosperity church.
2 Cor.8:12:For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according
to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.* * *So
much for borrow the rent money and make a vow of faith to prove
God. Baloney!
Verse 13: For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
Verse 14: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance
may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a
supply for your want: that there may be equality:* * *Sounds too
liberal for a lot of conservative preachers who want to conserve their
hold on your pocket book!
Verse 15: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing
over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.* * *Some would
shout that aint fair! I need to have a bunch left over so I can show
others how my cup is overflowing!
Some Christians feel they can no longer afford to stay in a moneyoriented church, but are afraid to leave an abusive church for fear of

losing social contacts or falling under Gods judgment. They are


warned that if they get out from under the covering (a doctrine
found nowhere in the NT) of Gods anointed shepherds the big bad
wolf will gobble them up. But my, what big teeth those hungry
shepherds have! Christians who stay in an abusive church situation
are ALREADY being gobbled up and are similar to wives afraid to leave
abusive husbands who are destroying them.
Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). The Holy Spirit
brings people together to fellowship, but no man should come between
the individual believer and His Lord. Some preachers dictate every
iota of a believers lifestyle, at least they control all his major
decisions. Thats cultism and the usurping of the Holy Spirits position
as being the guide of the believer (John 16:13).
When believers learn to love one another as Christ loved them (John
13:35), the world around them will finally awaken to an awareness of
Christs reality. The love of Christ expresses itself in humility. The
elder must become as the younger (Luke 22:26). Todays so-called
super-apostles would do well to remember that the greatest in
Christs Kingdom serve, they dont sit on thrones of judgment (yet).
The true servant of Christ feeds His flock (I Pet.5:2). A true minister of
Christ is humble and doesnt heap honors on himself (Luke 14:8-11).
Those in the ministry should remember that ALL true believers have
a ministry, however humble it may be (I Cor.14:26). Preachers should
remember that ALL believers in Christ are priests (I Pet.2:5,9;
Rev.5:9-10). They should remember that ALL overcomers, not just
ordained preachers, are promised a place seated in Christs own
Throne (Rev.3:21).
*****
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