Most every church has them – the gatekeepers:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12)
Gatekeepers are often very pious. They would never believe that they are standing in the way of others. Nevertheless, their purpose seems to be standing in judgment of others to protect their place in line, so to speak. In their hearts, they know that they have not arrived at a personal relationship with God. But they take some comfort in believing they are at least ahead of others.
These were the Pharisees whom Jesus encountered repeatedly:
Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. (John 9:39-41)
Gatekeepers do not see and refuse to see. Not only that, but they attempt to block the light from others. They refuse to accept the position and authority of others while never questioning their own authority. They do not stop at judging fellow believers. They question everyone, especially those appointed by God to spread the truth of the Gospel:
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:23-32)
What do we do about these gatekeepers? First, we must examine our hearts before God to assure that we are not one. Then we must intercede for the gatekeepers. We cannot tear down strongholds without prayer and fasting. Attempting to do it on our own will stir up a fire that we may not be able to extinguish.
Gatekeepers need to be delivered. They have placed themselves in bondage more than anyone else. We need to pray for them. Otherwise, we should ignore them. But when we see those with tender faith have been hurt by gatekeepers, we need to minister to them with loving care.