Friday, June 11, 2010

Deacon Root

What are deacons? Have you ever wondered what God's intent was in having a "special group" of people in his church as deacons? Did he intend on them being appointed to an "office"? Were they supposed to have authority and power as spiritual leaders in the church? Did he intend on 1 Timothy 3 to be a clear list of qualifications for the job, with some very legal requirements about their marriage history, the character of their wife, and well behaved children (who, as you remember, don't have to be old enough to be Christians like elders kids)?
Could it be that the simple word "deacon," which is the Greek word for servant, was just a simple way of referring to Christians who had specific responsibilities, and Paul was just trying to make sure that Timothy didn't put an inexperienced and unproven person in charge of something important? I mean, it's never capitalized, it's not a name or position, it's not in the Titus 1 leadership passage, - it's a servant! Which Christians are exempt from that description? Is 1 Timothy 3 really a list of required qualifications for us to argue about, divide over, and strain through a legal sifter, or was Paul just trying to say, use people who have a proven track record and "served well"? And why does that word "deaconesses," which really is the better translation of "their wives" (vs.11), frighten everyone so much? We're just talking about servants - right? We all know who the best "servants" in the church are anyway - right? Oh yes, but we've been told it's a "leadership" position, so he couldn't possibly have been talking about women deacons - right? Wrong.
I think we've had so many years of assuming "Deacon" with a capital "D" that we can't see the simplicity of what the Holy Spirit is saying. If we'd stop trying to force a pattern from everything we read, we might see that Paul was just saying, "Tim, use some wisdom, and don't give people responsibilities that they aren't ready for." I don't think for minute that Paul was setting up an "office" in the church for "special" servants, or creating a worldly hierarchy of authority, or saying that a church isn't a church if it doesn't have "Deacons". Jesus was a deacon/servant, but for him it meant that he humbled himself to the point of dying on a cross. I think we're all deacons - or at least we should be!

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