Yul Brynner, one of the best actors of all time in my opinion, said the immortal line “So let it be written, so let it be done,” in The Ten Commandments in his role as Pharaoh.
Given how our new administration has taken these words to heart through the use of executive order over the last week, I couldn’t help but think of him. Of course, the use of executive order isn’t something new, or unconstitutional for that matter. However, it seems like with each new president, there are more executive orders signed.
I’m not crazy about executive orders – they seem to go against the whole idea of our form of government. I wasn’t fan of them during Bush’s years, or Obama’s years, and I’m not a fan now. I think they take us in the wrong direction in terms of governing – especially when it comes to controversial issues. I much prefer the sloppy process of going through the legislative process. It’s inefficient and the end result usually looks different than what was intended. But it involves more voices having a say. Executive orders require one person’s voice – the President.
Imagine if we did this in church? You don’t have to imagine for some churches – for some, whatever the pastor says becomes the the way things will be. This way of governing, whether civil government or religious, has positives and negatives. It’s very efficient. Of course tyranny is the most efficient form of government there is – the person in charge become the law and what they say is the law. Very efficient.
However, I thought we put that system aside. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people don’t like it when their guy isn’t in charge, but have no problem when their guy is in charge. You probably know by now that I don’t like it regardless of who is in charge.
Back to church though – how should decisions be made? I think there are several parts to that answer. One part is prayer – the church exists to carry out God’s mission. If we aren’t in communication with God, then we’re doing our own thing. Prayer isn’t about what we want – it’s about aligning ourselves with God’s will. Another part is Scripture – it’s a guide that spells out our mission. We are called to preach the Good News to the poor, to love our neighbors, and to care for the outcasts of society. Another part is community – Church isn’t about one person saying what the rule will be – at least not the way I see church. Church is the community of believers working together to carry out the mission. Otherwise it’s just one person’s mission. Another part is leadership. Leadership means having a vision of how to carry out the mission, leading people, communicating the mission in ways that reach people. A church without leadership will just wander in the wilderness. Leadership also plays an important role by creating an environment where everyone can be engaged in the life of the community and where the status quo is challenged so church doesn’t get lazy and dull.
The church is different than civil government, and I’m grateful for that. is it messy and difficult at times? Yes, but that’s not a bad thing. Maybe our civil government could learn a few things from our churches. Church isn’t perfect, but we aren’t called to be either.