The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that not many were wise or strong in this world who were called. However, he did not say there were not any. Paul was of the elite of this world in both learning and wealth. He sacrificed it all for the gospel and considered it a small price to pay.
In biblical times, a scribe was a position of significant authority in both the Roman Empire and the nation of Israel. Scribes were writers who wrote the decrees of those who were in authority. In Israel, this included the copying of Scripture. It is interesting that Jesus addresses this specific group concerning discipleship in Matthew 13:52:
“Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.”
We see by this that Jesus was expecting scribes to become disciples of the kingdom, and indeed many did. To this specific group, He exhorts them to bring forth treasure from both the new and the old. This is an important consideration for the Great Commission because it is the only specific group the Lord addresses in relation to becoming disciples of the kingdom.
Because of technology, we don’t really have scribes today, but the group that would at least loosely connect with them are journalists and writers. The media today does have a great deal of authority in shaping culture and even government policy. Some believe their influence is even greater than that of government. How could our culture be shaped if the modern scribes were to become disciples of the kingdom?
We need to also consider the authority of modern scribes in the church. The influence of the secular media is great and worthy of much discussion, but I am speaking here of the Christian media. The influence of Christian television is substantial worldwide. Videos are huge now and can have substantial influence, as do websites, blogs, and of course, books and radio. The modern pulpit is no longer the wooden stand in our meeting places—it is electronic.
In the first century, the gospel followed the trading routes, which was the communication network of the times. The Reformation had been simmering for centuries, but when the printing press was developed and the Bible was the first thing to come off of it, the Reformation burst into flames all across Europe. Technology and communication networks have been the path the gospel has flowed along from the beginning, and it will be to the end. The important factor is who is using it—the preachers who stand behind the modern pulpit—the modern scribes.
There are many positives and negatives with this modern pulpit. Certainly we can now reach many more people, and much faster, but what are we reaching them with? There is very little filtering of what is on the Internet, and many people actually believe almost everything they read on the Internet. Much of what is put out could only be called spiritual junk food if we’re being generous. Some are putting poison in what they serve.
At the same time, there are few watchmen or shepherds with the international stature needed who will even address many of the most crucial issues of our times. So, as usual, the vacuum is filled by those who are not called, do not have the authority, and often end up doing as much damage as the enemies of the gospel.
So what do we do? First, as disciples of Christ, we must learn to receive our instruction from Him. For this reason, we are not just seeking to hear the words of the Lord as much as we are seeking to hear the Word, Himself. He must be our Teacher, and we must know His voice well enough that we will only follow Him. Do we hear His voice in those we are receiving instruction from?
Now we have people who can gain large followings on the Internet who could not even lead a home group in a valid church or fellowship. Journalists can presume to have authority in areas they have little or no experience or education in just because they are articulate or good writers. Many in the church, or in Christian media, presume that because they are good with words, spoken or written, they have authority. If we are going to be disciples of the kingdom, we must learn to recognize true kingdom authority, and learn when we have it and when we don’t.
We begin by returning to the Lord’s exhortation to scribes who would become disciples of the kingdom of heaven. They were to bring forth treasures—no junk food, but only the best for God’s household. Then we must bring forth treasures that are both new and old. The scribes of the kingdom of heaven will have deep roots in sound biblical truth, with a historic perspective rooted in honoring fathers and mothers because this is a basic characteristic of the kingdom. Also, they will be capable of bold new perspectives of such quality that they, too, are “treasures.”