Jesus didn’t seem to care for clergy. He never called for any kind of hierarchy of officials or ritual around his teachings.
In fact, his message was anti-establishment. He railed against the religious officials of his day and was eventually put to death by them.
In him, they saw their end. With his message, people didn’t need ‘them’ to get to God (since, as Jesus stated, the kingdom of Heaven was within) and this terrified them.
His contempt for the clergy was clear…
“But be ye not called Rabbi: for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are bretheren.”
— Matthew, 23:8
I’ve hesitated going down the ministerial path strictly because of Jesus. Which is weird because most choose this path because they think Jesus would be all about it (apparently we’re reading two different sets of scriptures here).
But after further introspection, I understand that it’s not the title that Jesus rallied against. It’s the putrid stench of self-righteousness and arrogance that certain people of the cloth reek of.
Recently, I attended a service at Agape Spiritual Center, founded by Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith.
A little backstory here…
The reason I’m on this path today is, in a big way, because of Beckwith. I read his book, Spiritual Liberation, many years ago where he mentioned Ernest Holmes as an early influence. I looked up Holmes, found his work, and I was forever hooked on the New Thought tradition.
It was a treat being able to shake his hand (sorry, no time for a selfie) and sit in one of his sermons (far different than live-streaming, which I’ve done off and on for years). I have to say, it was life-altering.
As I write this anti-clergy post, I think about the likes of Beckwith as well as the other pastors and ministers I’ve grown to love over the years who’ve inspired my work today. And I see a vast difference between what they do as opposed to the ecclesiastics that Jesus called out on the floor.
In fact, I’ve whittled it down to one major difference…
The great spiritual leaders throughout history have served to elevate their congregation, not to stifle them.
The ones Jesus denunciated stood above their congregation and preached DOWN to them, seeing their congregation as a lowly flock of cattle in which they’re to herd wherever they choose.
Rev. Beckwith (and those like him) stand below their congregation — and the world — preaching UP to them. They see their job as rising the consciousness and elevating the lives of those in their wake. They’re there to serve, not to control.
These are the questions we must ask before ‘following’ anyone’s spiritual direction.
Is this individual here to make me feel small and flawed for their gain and aggrandizement?
Or are they here to elevate my spirit to the highest heights and watch me soar?