James Wood - Rulers or Feeders? - Letter

A letter to workers and friends,

If any of us were asked, "What do you prefer, rulers or feeders?" Most of us would say, "Give us feeders." But so often when we are given the choice between those who are rulers and those who are feeders, we choose the rulers. Why? Whatever the reason, it seems to be a human tendency.

We could point out a few characteristics of the rulers, such as the following. The rulers are the stronger ones; they're the organizing ones; they are the authoritative ones; they are the judgers and the punishers. They often come into the place of power subtly, serving with the feeders, then taking over after the feeders are gone. How do we recognize them? There are ways they can be recognized, because the differences are great. However, the more difficult part is to acknowledge them and to admit to ourselves that they are what they are. So often the rulers who come into that place by serving at the side of the feeders, fall into a place of honor, or usurp such a place of honor among the people, that the people, even though they recognize that these are not the same as the feeders were, they cannot acknowledge that they are really rulers and not feeders.

When Jesus sent His disciples out, He sent them out to heal and to feed. Luke 9 brings this out very clearly. He gave them power over unclean spirits and to heal all diseases, and He showed them how to give bread to people. This is the power that He gave them and really the only power. In this same chapter, He took away from them three powers:  financial power, power of government, or political, and the power to destroy. These are some of the differences between the rulers and feeders, and they are truly great. One could wonder why would we ever confuse them as the differences are so vast. It seems that we have no trouble recognizing and acknowledging the rulers in the other fellow's church, but we're very loath to acknowledge it in our own.

Why do we need rulers? We don't. Why do we choose them? Because we think we need them. Why do we think this? Because they, the rulers, have taught us this. What we need is feeders, and rulers are not feeders and never will be. But the feeders will be rulers, but of a different kind. The kind that we read of in Hebrews 13 that shepherd and care for the sheep. These are the kind that we will be able and willing to follow and obey, because they follow the Shepherd.

What does it take to escape from the snare of the rulers? Three things come to mind. Recognition, acknowledgment, and courage. But none of these things are possible without a genuine love for the Good Shepherd. Without this love for Him, we won't see the difference between His feeders and the rulers, even as vast that the difference is. With this love, we can recognize it, so we can acknowledge it, or admit to ourselves, and this love will give us the courage to face all opposition, even though we may have to do so alone.

In II Corinthians 11 we see some more marks of the RULERS. Verse 3, they depart from the simplicity that is in Christ. Verse 4, they preach another Jesus, one of law instead of one of Grace. They impart another spirit and teach another gospel. Verse 5, they are recognized as chief apostles. (In one version it says thus, "I was not a whit behind those great apostles. Those that they the people esteemed to be great.") Verse 20, they bring into bondage, they devour, they take, they exalt themselves, and they smite on the face. Yet we suffer or tolerate them. Why? Because we can't bring ourselves to acknowledge that they are what they are.

In connection with this, we might mention II Corinthians 7:2 some marks of the feeders, or the true apostles. "Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man." Quite a testimony and one that the rulers cannot truthfully claim. They claim it, but not truthfully, because they wrong, corrupt, and defraud. The greatest fraud being as Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23, "They shut up the kingdom of God," etc. And they do this by not teaching the grace of God in truth.

Another thing about rulers is that they have their favorites. They will favor them who love them, and support them, and will despise and persecute them who don't love them, and don't support them. Those who once gave them support and afterwards retracted it are slandered and accused of having a wrong spirit. They tolerate no opposition and will go to great extremes to stop the mouth of the opposition. The degree of the extent that this is carried is determined by the degree of departure of the church from its original form. In the early days in church history, the persecution would have been slander and rejection by the group, and gossip, etc. Later, as the departure reached a greater degree, it came to dungeons, torture chambers, and chopping blocks, all to the same end of stopping the voice of the dissenter, and all justified in the name of Christ. It is the same seed and the same soil, the only difference is time.

It is nice to envision the church under the guidance of feeders. These will be good trees bearing good fruit and bringing gladness to the hearts of men and of God. The people will be individually taught of God, as they will be fed and nourished well and will grow in grace and in the knowledge of God and His Son. They will love one another and thereby hold up the standard, the only standard that Jesus gave whereby His people would be known by the world as such.

Another mark of rulers is that they rule by law. Without law, they are nothing and have no power. They rule by decree through fear, leading people to believe that to disobey them is loss of salvation. They tell us that the ten commandments are still in force, and that to disobey them is sin. They tell us that there are problems today that didn't exist in Bible days, so they have the right to make laws covering such things. We see all these things and accept their ruling, refusing to acknowledge that it is a perversion and a departure from Truth.

The feeder feeds by life and spirit, bringing forth fruit that feeds the heart of the hungry of soul. There's no laws governing the apple tree; anyone can pick and eat of the sweetness of its fruit and rejoice in its shadow. There is no fence around it, keeping certain people out, and certain people in. There is no chain tying people to the trunk, not even a line on the ground telling them how far they can go. Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.

Let us value more and more the liberty wherein Christ has made us free, and understand and avoid the yoke of bondage.

By Jim/James Wood (2x2 worker)

* James Wood passed away at home on December 20, 2012.