Jesus’ progression through the sequence of mothering, fathering and eldering is quite obvious.
The first year and a half of his ministry was spent with heavy mothering, doing massive healing and deliverance events benefitting the people in Galilee and Syria.
The drama in Matthew 12 marked the abrupt and glaring transition to the fathering season (although He was doing plenty of that in the first season as well). Beginning with the parables in Matthew 13 he moved vigorously into the fathering season, investing less time with the crowds, so He could pour into His Twelve.
After the Great Confession at Caesarea Philippi, He added the eldering piece, while still pouring into the Twelve.
The task of an elder is to build new spiritual structures. The playing field is the existing visible social structures that are controlled by ungodly, invisible spiritual structures. The process is building micro-social structures imbued with the life of God. The dynamic is that the living structures reveal the deadness of the lifeless structures, prompting a savage war of words together with social and economic pressure, seeking to deny, discredit or destroy the living structures, in order to disempower the spiritual ones that were built in the process.
Let’s walk it out.
Remember that spiritual structures are built off agreements from humans. The Jewish leaders had agreed to a bunch of stuff, and their followers had tepidly agreed to some of those ideas. Those agreements had created some significant evil spiritual structures that blocked the work of God.
Jesus came to build the spiritual structures that would allow the place that killed Him to become the launching pad for the Church.
Think about it. On Sunday the crowds acclaimed Him as King. Days later, they called for His crucifixion. The evil spiritual structures over the city devoured the life from Palm Sunday.
But Jesus was so successful with establishing new structures in the spiritual realm that the devil was never able to tamp down the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. NOTHING he tried was successful because the spiritual structures were in place to support the birthing.
There were myriad evil spiritual structures at that time, but Jesus chose the issue of legitimacy. The playing field was broadly religion and the right the religious leaders claimed to be the legitimizers. The specific narrow niche He drilled down on was His right to walk out the Sabbath the way God designed it, not the way religion had distorted it.
But while this was the highly visible playing field, redeeming the Sabbath was not the objective. It was only the playing field of choice to build spiritual structures.
The Sabbath had become a place of bondage in the hands of religion. Jesus calmly brought freedom in speech and action. He taught broadly, articulating the principles of freedom, but more specifically, He healed people on the Sabbath, intentionally modeling that the day was made for life and hope.
These healed people walking around in public, were microcosms of the life of God manifest in a largely dead religious culture of the Sabbath.
As a result of the viable, public, undeniable manifestations of the life of God, the human minions of the powers of darkness launched a four-prong assault. First was a savage war of words denouncing The Christ and His theology. Second was brazen denial of the reality of the life of God in their midst. Third, the violent de-legitimization of the people like the man born blind who dared to celebrate his freedom. Fourth, an overt plan to kill the purveyor of the life of God in their midst.
Eventually, they did of course succeed in killing Him, only to have the plan backfire because the life of God in His resurrection was a massive new problem to denounce, deny and delegitimize. Plus it sure is hard to kill a resurrection!
My point is this. Eldering is a very different game. An Antichrist culture will grudgingly tolerate some level of mothering and fathering, but when one of the Sons of God steps into eldering, murder is in the books.
When Jesus took the battle to them, seeking to replace the Antichrist spiritual structures they had built in the heavenlies, with the spiritual structures conducive to enthroning the King of Kings and Lord of Lords among humans and their social structures, it was game on, with no possibility of a negotiated peace.
Someone would die.
Ultimately, the religious leadership died at their own hands in a suicide pact at Masada.
The same will happen here. The diatribe today is venomous when someone challenges the right of the social legitimizers to legitimize what God has called illegitimate. Thousands of Christians have been thrown under the bus for attempting to move out of mothering or fathering into eldering.
Knowing that, the question on the table is, “What values will drive a SUCCESSFUL (not a Quixotic) strategy to build a righteous spiritual structure in some sector of today’s society?
And that is for the coming blogs. A complex question for sure.
Copyright August 2019 by Arthur Burk
As I read your words I thought about their truth in spiritual community but also wham!...The reality of the shift that must come in parenting children....shifting into Eldering roles, especially when adult children do not want to grow up and take any responsibility! My brain needed your insight there today. Thanks!
This is going to take some pondering and engrafting. Thank you for laying this out for us so clearly. A welcome step to growing up into all things in Christ.
I’m entrenched in mothering/delivering as never before. Love this because it showed me where I must be heading...eldering.
Wow! Amazing revelation. Now to pray.
A great insight. I see this structure at work in our region. Ann and I have done well fathering and mothering, but hit tons of resistance trying to rise above it. Looking forward to hearing more.