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An important difference between the kingdom of heaven and man-made religions is that the religions of man worship the group more than the Creator. But even if we teach this principle (of following God more than the group), we cannot guarantee that individuals within our group won't substitute group conformity for conformity to God.

It's easy to welcome people who conform with the group without questioning their motives for following. But in the kingdom of heaven followers should be developing into leaders. And if this is not happening, something is wrong. Jesus said the weakest person in his kingdom must be stronger than John the Baptist. (Luke 7:28) God puts leaders in the church for the purpose of training the followers to become leaders. (Ephesians 4:11-12) Jesus called us to follow him so that we could learn to lead others. (Matthew 4:19) And Paul wanted his students to be teachers. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Faithful commitment to a group should never take the place of faithful commitment to God. We can only move on to spiritual perfection through total honesty and total submission to Christ alone. As we do this, we all become leaders.

LeadersServeBut if everyone is leading, who will follow? Since the greatest people in God's kingdom are those who serve, the leaders can follow!

Does this sound like a contradiction? Actually, it's a paradox.

We must first be freed from our slavery before we can become servants. Most people follow out of fear. But after we have overcome our fears, we can return to serve people in love. Paul says to "Christ's servants: Be not the servants of men." (1 Corinthians 7:22-23) We refuse to work for wages; and yet we're happy to work for love. That's because it is God that we are working for, and not the people whom we help. Wage slaves may do the same tasks, but they will never have the same freedom. And those who follow a group because they are afraid they will be kicked out if they don't are serving people rather than God too.

Our freedom from fear frightens people. Although we serve, we are actually leading, because we (unlike those who live in fear) know who we are really serving, and we do not become confused by the tricks so many human leaders use to compensate for their own lack of confidence. Spiritual leaders who are in bondage to greed or pride (as are most system leaders) can never offer freedom, because they are slaves themselves. (2 Peter 2:19)

(See also Two Witnesses, part 2.)

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