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We vote on our government, we voice our opinions, and we value fairness – we call it democracy. The Church, however, is not a democracy, but a theocracy.
Let me briefly define what I mean. A Church Democracy is when all members can fairly voice their opinion to reach an agreement. A Church Theocracy is when all members pray to seek God’s will and submit by expressing themselves accordingly.
A theocracy is an interesting concept that we understand in principle, but not always in practice. It’s fair to say we understand that God’s will is ultimate and higher than our own. When God’s will, however, is different than our will, we sometimes lose sight of the theocracy and move towards a democracy. It sounds fair to us, but when we cross this line, we welcome “politics” into the ministry of the Church. And let’s face it – Jesus is coming back and we don’t have the time to waste.
Let’s pretend, for a moment, that church politics are not already happening.
Here are 3 situations by where the Church must operate theocratically and not democratically:
1. Voting For Leadership
Whether we are voting for Executive leadership, local pastors or board deacons, we are always seeking the person God has already chosen. I love when the disciples were looking to replace Judas’ apostolic position:
“And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
Our vote is based on God’s will, not our own. We pray for God to reveal to us who He has already chosen. As a result, we don’t base our vote on our personal will (opinions, expectations, or concerns); rather, we base our vote on God’s will. We have to remain true to this, even when our will seems different than God’s.
2. Looking for Direction and Potential Change
When we’re determining what direction to go towards, it seems good to go in the direction most people can agree on. Even though leading people and directing change requires buy-in and dedication, we can’t solely use that indicator for our decision making. If we do, then we could potentially miss out on God’s will. Especially if God’s will involves taking a risk. Generally speaking, people like the safe option before the risky one, and God likes the risky option before the safe one. I’ve witnessed this in the simple fact that we have no choice but to rely on God when we choose the riskier option.
When God leads us within a theocracy, He will guide us into the direction of His perfect will. David, the man after god’s own heart, asked God to teach him “His paths” because he was sold out to His leadership:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”
3. Asking God to Answer Our Prayer Requests
We all bring requests to God. Sometimes we are desperately asking for healing, consistently praying for the salvation of a loved one, or otherwise daily praying for our circumstances to change. God wants us to bring our requests before him, and when we do, we know He hears us.
With that said, God doesn’t answer our requests based on the number of times we ask (casting a democratic prayer, if you will). Sometimes I feel like the Church views prayer in that way – the more we ask, the more God answers. We may not actually believe that on paper, but it seems fair in practice. The more we pray, however, the more we will understand God’s theocratic will. The goal is never for our will to be met; rather, for God’s will to be praised. It means we should be more about seeking God’s will, than asking for a “yes.”
When teaching about prayer, Jesus clearly explained the focus is always on God the Father. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus later described a prayer life that included “asking”, but more importantly, described a life of prayer that seeks after God’s will and desires a deep relationship with Him (7:7f).
Christianity is all about selflessness and serving the King. If we want to experience God’s will, then we must be willing to forfeit our will. It may be tempting to call this a dictatorship. That distinction, however, can’t be found when our God has given us the most selfless gift – the cross. A true theocracy involves God providing for His followers and for his followers to selflessly serve Him. Let’s live it out.
Do we hunger after our will, or God’s will? Do we pray to understand God’s will?
I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (email@example.com).