I know a Christian man who would frequently get upset, and tell me so, because the people at his church did not address him by his title of doctor. He felt disrespected but wanted to be respected by having others acknowledge him as “doctor”.
I also know a man who professes to be a Christian who after receiving his doctorate degree complained to me that most of his colleges did not, or as he stated, would not address him as doctor. He saw them as being jealous.
Neither one of these Christian men wanted to hear that titles shouldn’t matter because, after all, they worked hard for them and it was a big accomplishment. Both of these educated men felt they earned the right to be respected because of their titles.
Titles are very important from a worldly standpoint but from a spiritual standpoint, they really don’t mean anything or they shouldn’t, don’t you think? I’m not saying that in the churches there aren’t teachers, overseers, apostles, prophets, healers etc… I’m saying that though this may be what some are, it is what they are ONLY because the Holy Spirit has imparted to them these gifts, not because they earned the right to have a title. Luke was said to be a doctor but no one called him Dr. Luke. Paul was an apostle but no one called him Apostle Paul even though that’s what he was. We put people with titles on pedestals but the truth is, we aren’t important because of our titles or because our title is less than someone else’s. On the flip side, those who have no titles are not unimportant. And we certainly aren’t perfect because of titles.
Labels are another problem in the churches. There were no labels when the Church first started. Believers were just called Christians because they followed Christ. It was simple. Jesus came as the Messiah and was God in the flesh and though He could have, He didn’t demand to be addressed as “the Messiah” or “God”. And He certainly didn’t refer to Himself as a Catholic, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a premillenianist, a Calvinist etc… nor did Peter, Paul, James, John or the rest of the apostles and disciples.
So why do Christiasn feel such a need to use labels and titles in the churches today? Why do we think like the world does, that a label and/or title defines or qualifies someone? I think it’s because the world is so much in the churches today. As soon as we focus on pretense we take our focus off of the Lord.
Take a look at this passage of scripture from Romans 2:28-29:
“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. “
Labels such as the denominations we’ve created are the work and desire of people, not God. It’s people who have brought the importance of labels and titles into the churches, which in turn is partially responsible for the many divisions we have. Look at the price we’re paying for this compromise. People become the focal point instead of our Lord. Are we glorifying our God this way?
What is disturbing to me is that because much of our focus is on people, on their labels and titles (meaning denominations and labels that define a Chistian’s doctrine like calvinist, premillenialist, dispensationalist etc…), we are not proving ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples, but we are proving ourselves to be worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). Simply put, as we are divided by these labels, we cannot at the same time be united by His Spirit. Let us understand this: The Holy Spirit unites, it does not divide unless, of course He is dividing the believers from unbelievers. Jesus said He came with a sword to divide.
I didn’t always believe this way. In fact, I never gave labels and titles all that much thought until my eyes were opened to it. But one thing I’ve noticed is that the more I know God the more He allows me to see. And once I see, I cannot go back to what I used to believe no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular it is.
Praise to Him who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever and ever! Now Jesus is worthy of those titles!