Jeremiah and Ezekiel: Eccentric Relatives and Seaside Musings on Eldership

Setting: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and their quirky cousin Barnabas—who they often call “Barney” when he says something especially silly—find themselves at a beautiful seaside beach. The waves crash gently, children laugh and play, and seagulls squawk overhead. The trio is trying to discuss the complexities of eldership in the church, but Barney keeps things interesting.

Jeremiah: [pushing his sunhat back] Ezekiel, I’ve been thinking about the role of elders again. You know, how they’re supposed to lead without being authoritarian.

Ezekiel: [adjusting his beach chair] Absolutely, Jeremiah. Elders are shepherds, not tyrants. They need to guide without lording it over the flock.

Barnabas: [joining the conversation with a goofy grin] Hey, fellas, did you know that “rule” can mean different things? Like, I once ruled over my backyard kingdom with a mighty garden hose! [laughs at his own joke]

Jeremiah: [chuckling] Ah, Barney, always with the corny jokes. But you’re onto something. Words like “rule” in the Bible have various meanings. It’s crucial to understand the context.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Right, Jeremiah. Just like how “fast” can mean quick or going without food. When we talk about the rule of elders, we need to look at the specific Greek words used in the New Testament.
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Barnabas: [scratching his head] Greek, huh? Like the yogurt? [winks]

Jeremiah: [laughing] Not quite, Barney. We’re talking about the original language of the New Testament. Words like “arche” and “despotes” aren’t used to describe elders. These words suggest authoritarian rule, which isn’t what elders should have.

Ezekiel: [gesturing to the ocean] Just like how the sea is vast and uncontrollable, the rule of elders isn’t about exerting complete control over others. They’re not meant to be despots or rulers of provinces.

Barnabas: [trying to keep up] So, no ruling like a king on his throne? More like guiding the ship gently through the waters?

Jeremiah: [nodding] Exactly, Barney. Elders must lead without being authoritarian. As Peter said, they shouldn’t “lord it over” the flock. They need to guide, counsel, and serve.

Ezekiel: [watching a seagull swoop] Remember when Jesus talked about the rulers of the Gentiles? He said they lord it over people, but it shouldn’t be that way among us. Elders should lead by example, not by dominating others.

Barnabas: [leaning in] So, if an elder starts acting like a king, we should give him a timeout? [grins]

Jeremiah: [laughing] Not quite, but close. Elders should be reminded that their role is to serve, not to rule with an iron fist. They’re to be shepherds who care for the flock, not bosses who bark orders.

Ezekiel: [smiling] Exactly. The word “rule” in Hebrews 13:17, for instance, is about leading and guiding, not dominating. Elders are to be leaders through their example and counsel.

Barnabas: [pondering] So, it’s like being the head lifeguard at the beach. You guide and protect, but you don’t throw people out of the water just because you can.

Jeremiah: [smiling] That’s a great analogy, Barney. Elders are there to watch over our souls, much like lifeguards watch over swimmers. They’re to lead by influence, not by force.

Ezekiel: [nodding] Yes, Barney. And just like lifeguards, elders need to act with care, love, and humility. Their leadership is about service, not power.

Barnabas: [looking thoughtful] So, if elders are supposed to lead without being bossy, what happens when they start acting like dictators?

Jeremiah: [serious now] That’s a problem. If elders start exerting authoritarian control, it goes against what Jesus taught. They need to be reminded of their true role and the biblical principles of leadership.

Ezekiel: [watching the waves] Elders are meant to guide, not control. Their authority comes from their ability to counsel and lead by example, not from a position of power.

Barnabas: [smiling again] Got it! Elders are like those sandcastle builders over there. They help shape and guide, but they don’t own the beach.

Jeremiah: [laughing] Perfectly put, Barney. Elders help shape the church through their service and leadership, but they don’t control it. They guide with love and wisdom.

Ezekiel: [grinning] And just like the tides, their influence should ebb and flow gently, nurturing the congregation without overwhelming it.

Barnabas: [laughing] You guys are deep! Almost as deep as the ocean!

Jeremiah: [smiling] Thanks, Barney. And thanks for keeping things light. It’s good to remember that leadership, especially in the church, should always come with a touch of humility and humor.

Ezekiel: [nodding] Absolutely. Now, how about a swim? We’ve earned it after all this deep thinking.

Barnabas: [jumping up] Last one in is a rotten fish!

[The trio laughs and races to the water, their discussion about elders’ roles and responsibilities buoyed by the light-heartedness of family and the beauty of the seaside setting.]

Are You My Brother?

It was a bright and sunny afternoon in the peaceful village where Jeremiah and Ezekiel lived. The two old friends and fellow ministers had decided to meet at their favorite spot by the river, under the shade of a large oak tree. The sound of the flowing water and the chirping birds provided a tranquil backdrop to their animated discussions.

Jeremiah arrived first, carrying a picnic basket filled with homemade treats. He settled down on the grass, spreading a blanket and arranging the food. Moments later, Ezekiel appeared, holding a rolled-up scroll. His face bore a thoughtful expression, hinting at the lively debate to come.

“Ah, Ezekiel, you made it!” Jeremiah greeted, waving him over. “I’ve brought some bread and honey. Perfect for a debate, don’t you think?”

Ezekiel chuckled and took a seat. “Indeed, Jeremiah. Nothing like a bit of nourishment to fuel our discussions. And today, we have quite the topic on our hands.”

Jeremiah raised an eyebrow. “Oh? What’s on your mind this time?”

Ezekiel unrolled the scroll and began reading. “I received a letter from a fellow preacher asking if those who teach institutionalism or liberalism can be called brethren. It’s a thorny issue, one that I think we should delve into.”

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Jeremiah nodded, taking a bite of bread. “Certainly a topic worth discussing. So, what’s your take on it, Ezekiel?”

Ezekiel leaned back against the tree, contemplating. “Well, the scriptures do provide guidance. In II Thessalonians 3:13-15, it says, ‘But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.'”

Jeremiah’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “Ah, so you’re on the side of gentle admonition. Treat them with kindness, but keep your distance, eh?”

Ezekiel smiled. “Precisely. They are still brethren, albeit wayward ones. Just because they’ve strayed doesn’t mean we should cast them out completely.”

Jeremiah took another bite, chewing thoughtfully. “You know, I see where you’re coming from, but let’s not forget II John 9-11: ‘Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.'”

Ezekiel raised an eyebrow. “So you’re saying we should shun them entirely?”

Jeremiah shook his head. “Not shun, exactly. But we must be cautious. By associating too closely, we risk endorsing their errors. Remember I Corinthians 5:9-13: ‘I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.'”

Ezekiel chuckled. “So you’re telling me we’re having lunch together now, but if I step out of line, it’s no more picnics?”

Jeremiah laughed heartily. “Something like that, my friend. But seriously, it’s about maintaining the purity of the faith while still showing love.”

Ezekiel nodded thoughtfully. “True. We can’t compromise on doctrine, but we also can’t lose sight of the command to love our brothers and sisters. It’s a delicate balance.”

They sat in companionable silence for a moment, enjoying the serenity of their surroundings. The river flowed steadily, a symbol of the enduring passage of time and the constancy of their friendship.

Jeremiah broke the silence with a grin. “You know, Ezekiel, you always were the more diplomatic one. Maybe that’s why you get more wedding invitations.”

Ezekiel chuckled. “And you, Jeremiah, always the stickler for rules. No wonder you were voted ‘Most Likely to Argue with a Pharisee’ back in seminary.”

They both laughed, the sound echoing through the trees.

“All humor aside,” Jeremiah said, “this is a serious issue. How do we draw the line between correction and rejection?”

Ezekiel nodded. “Indeed. I think it comes down to intent. If our intent is to guide them back to the truth, then we must approach them with love and patience. Galatians 6:1 says, ‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.'”

Jeremiah sighed. “It’s a tough balance. We must be vigilant and discerning. But we must also remember that we are all fallible, and we all need grace.”

As the sun dipped lower in the sky, casting a golden glow over the landscape, they continued to discuss, each providing scriptural support for their viewpoints. Their debate was earnest, but always laced with humor and mutual respect.

At one point, Jeremiah quoted, “Galatians 3:26-27, ‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ They are still our brethren, and we should not be quick to dismiss them.”

Ezekiel nodded. “Yes, and that’s why we must correct them in love. But remember, II Corinthians 6:14, ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?'”

Jeremiah smirked. “Always the diplomat, Ezekiel. But point taken.”

The evening wore on, and their discussion ranged far and wide, touching on various aspects of faith, doctrine, and the challenges of ministry. Through it all, they remained steadfast in their commitment to the truth and to each other.

As they packed up their picnic and prepared to head home, Jeremiah turned to Ezekiel with a smile. “You know, my friend, despite our disagreements, I always enjoy our debates.”

Ezekiel grinned. “As do I, Jeremiah. Iron sharpens iron, after all. Proverbs 27:17.”

Jeremiah chuckled. “Indeed. And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll figure it all out.”

Ezekiel laughed. “Perhaps. But until then, we keep striving, keep debating, and keep loving our brethren, even those who stray.”

They walked home together, their hearts lightened by their shared journey and their unwavering faith. For they knew that, in the end, their efforts were indeed worth it.