In a discussion last Sunday with my dear friend, Howard, at church, we somehow hit upon the topic of discernment and how we all have our own personal blind-spots. He mentioned how we, the collective local congregation, are definitely stronger together than we are apart, and therefore less likely to be led astray. While this made me think about the imagery of the interconnected body of believers (such as from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27), it also made me think specifically about the office of elder within the church.
Numerous times over the past several months I have been reminded of the importance of having strong elders within a church body. The threats to the church come from both inside and outside, and these threats are non-stop.
When the apostle Paul directed Timothy to appoint elders, he gave a long list of qualifications for these men. One of the key qualifications was that they hold firm to the word of God:
…I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:5, 9).
The wisdom of Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in directing the appointment of a plurality of elders comes through when we think of our personal blind-spots. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit protects the church as we await the return of Christ Jesus. However, one of the ways he does this is through the elders within the local congregation. A single elder (or pastor) working alone is more susceptible to attacks at his blind-spots, than a group of elders.
All of this was a reminder of the wisdom of God in how he established his church. It was also a reminder of the great blessings God has bestowed upon me and my family by providing us with the fine elders that shepherd us.