I think we have become too civilized in our Christianity. So civilized, in fact, that if Jesus was here in the flesh we would be like the Pharisees and not accept Him. Surely, we wouldn't want him to be in the leadership of our churches with the behavior he exhibited. Here is three examples of actions we would not accept in our church leaders. I think just one of the examples would exclude a person from leadership. Jesus did all three.
1. Jesus, the drinker and provider of alcohol.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Matthew 11:19 (ESV)Here we have an example of people accusing Jesus of being a drunkard. Why would they think he was a drunkard? I would assume that it was because he came "eating and drinking" more than most. Would we allow our leaders to live in such a way that people accused them of being drunkards?
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11 (ESV)To be accused of being a drunkard is one thing. To actually be the one that carries the kegs to the party seems to be another (or in this case to turn the water into alcoholic beveragesat the party ). Here we have Jesus turning water into wine so that the wedding party can continue with alcoholic beverages. Would we allow our leaders to drink at a wedding party, let alone be the ones that provide the alcohol?
If you're interested in reading on the subject of alcohol and the Bible more, check out The Bible On Alcohol and Drinking Wine.
2. Jesus, the politically incorrect.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. Matthew 21:12-17 (ESV)What an attitude! It just doesn't seem like the nice, gentle, and civilized approach we expect out of our church leaders. We like our leaders to be political and diplomatic. Jesus could've held a meeting with those in charge of the activities of the temple and discussed what they were doing. If that didn't work, he should've just submitted to their authority. That is what we would expect our leaders to do. Would we allow our leaders to come into the church building and destroy something that he thought was contrary to what God intended for his people to be doing?
3. Jesus, the outcast.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)Talk about disturbing. If I had an individual over for dinner where the town prostitute heard about it and wanted to come into my house, clean, and anoint his feet with oil, I would be disturbed to say the least. I would wonder why in the world would this guy let this prostitute spend so much time cleaning his feet. It would seem a little erotic to me. I surely wouldn't let that guy be a leader in my church. Would we allow our leader to have the town prostitute lather his feet with oil?
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10 (ESV)Imagine a guest speaker coming into our town. This guest speaker had the opportunity to meet with any of the people in the church or the leaders in the community, yet he chose to meet with the most despised people in our community (probably the poor family who doesn't bath their kids or the owner of the bar, who I actually like in my town and has a good reputation) instead of any of the people of good reputation. Would we want that kind of speaker as a leader in our church?
I think we have a long way to go until we are really followers of Christ and genuinely accept Him and His radical ways. I really don't think we would accept Jesus as a leader in our churches. And the problem in this scenario isn't Jesus; it's us. So if we wouldn't accept Him as a leader of the church, are we really accepting him as the Lord of our lives? I fear we have turned "following Christ" into something it isn't.