Councils of bishops make known to us the will of God, we must obey their decisions.

The bishops possess authority in the Church to teach and to lead, but when a bishop teaches, he does not profess his teachings, but the teachings of Christ.   If he begins to profess that which is not in accordance with the teachings of the Church, the faithful will expose him as a heretic.  Similarly, when a bishop exercises his rule, he does not impose his will on the Church.  The Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit, and not by the will of man.  The apostles, when issuing their decrees, started by saying, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us… .”  It is sacrilege to think that the Church is ruled by people, by the will of man, like any other worldly organization.  A comment by Met. Antony of blessed memory comes to mind, “The Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit, while the bishops get in His way.”

How can bishops, who are ordinary people, know what pleases the Holy Spirit?  It is not possible for them to know, which is why they must act with the fear of God, and always bear in mind that their decrees may not agree with the will of God.  They must be prepared to reject their own decisions, if they see that the faithful do not accept them.  “The guardian of piety in the Church is the body of the Church itself, that is, the faithful themselves,” as is written in the encyclical of the Eastern patriarchs.

“A bishop does not rule over people of God in his own name…but on behalf of God, Who ordained him ‘in Christ’ for the ministry of leadership. Possessing the gift to discern and examine, the people affirm that all that is committed by the pastors leading the Church is done in accordance with the will of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit…In the ancient church, people’s ministry of witness was exercised through consent to that which must be done in the Church, and through acceptance of that which has been already done, as being in accordance with God’s will…The Church lives and acts not by the will of man, but by the will of God.  People’s consent and acceptance conveyed the witness of the Church, that its primates act and rule in accordance with the will of God.” (Archpriest Nikolay Afanasiev)

In this way, the ministry of leadership lies with the bishops, while the ministry of acceptance lies with the people of the church.  In contrast, we have a metropolitan who when he experiences resistance to his decisions from the people, explains it as machinations of his enemies.  As a result, his actions can be described as being unceasingly at war with the members of the church.