One of the commonest causes of failure in Christian life is found in the attempt to follow some good man whom we greatly admire. No man and no woman, no matter how good, can be safely followed. If we follow any man or woman, we are bound to go astray. There has been but one absolutely perfect Man on this earth-the Man Christ Jesus. If we try to follow any other man we are surer to imitate his faults than his excellencies. Look to Jesus and Jesus only as your Guide.
– R. A. Torrey
I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from great heroes of the faith from the early church fathers to contemporary writers, podcasters, preachers and conference speakers. I honour them. I quote them. I pass on what I have learned from them. But I don’t put them on a pedestal or follow only one person. That’s not fair to them, and it would be dangerous to me.
When I quote someone it does not mean that I accept everything they have ever said or written. The freedom to exercise the discernment Christ gives everyone in whom he lives is far too precious to surrender, but I do value truth when I hear it.
We all need to learn and sometimes that means living with incomplete concepts and trusting that more mature people may have a grasp on paradox and aspects of Christian living for which we do not yet have a grid. There is grace for that, and humility makes room for trust. Sometimes, however, we are prone to looking to public figures instead of looking to Jesus Christ for our answers.
For many years people, especially women, were given the impression they were not educated enough or spiritual enough or had enough authority to respectfully ask questions. Many have not been in a position to reject teachings or practices that didn’t line up with what the Holy Spirit and the scriptures were revealing to them. If they dared they found themselves rejected.
No one knows the perfect truth but God, but even if they did they still wouldn’t lord it over anyone. That would attract attention to themselves and distract their audience from being Christ-centered.
If you are coerced into obeying a church leader who doesn’t permit honest questions or any thoughtful disagreement, that’s not the mutual submission the Bible talks about. It might be time to get your eyes back on the One who sets you free. It might require you to forgive, bless, and move on.