Christianity 201

August 21, 2018

Role Models Who Live With the People They’re Leading

Several years ago we visited a blog called Biblical Diagnosis and today I decided to check back in where I discovered this excellent article. Click the title to read at source and look around the rest of the site.

Starving for Role Models

Role models.

Oh that we could use some role models. Whether we attribute it to modern-day living, or to a more sinister cause such as the fact that the Spirit of the Anti-Christ is already at work, it is hard to argue that today, we hardly know people well-enough for them to serve as role models for us, or for us to serve as such for them.

Yet, it is by this Role Model template that the Holy Spirit of God moved in spectacular fashion in the early church, converting people by the masses and keeping them on the walk of faith. Consider the following text, in a letter that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy wrote to the Church members of Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 – For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

They reminded the church members of the lifestyle they themselves had when there were among them. Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we learn that those members once converted, became followers of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. Here, we read the details of how those three gentlemen preached the word to them. Their preaching were not just words, but a combination of words and a lifestyle that aligned with those words.

How effective do you suppose is this form of preaching, where those you preach not only hear you, but can also see you in action, and acquaint themselves with the practical aspects of your preaching?

Paul says,

For you yourselves know that…

we never came with words of flattery

… we did not seek glory from people, whether from you or from others

… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children

… we were ready to share with you our own selves

… we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you WHILE we proclaimed to you the gospel

… You are witnesses how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you

… you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God

The Thessalonians knew that all those things were true because they witnessed it. Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy lived right among them, providing the Thessalonians with the most effective demonstration and blueprint for what the Christians life looks like. This is in fact, effective preaching.

To the Corinthians, Paul says something similar

1 Corinthians 2:2,3 – …I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power

He says…“I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”. So it must be that the Corinthians also so how Paul handled himself and exercised his faith in those moments, thereby providing them with powerful practical lessons that they could rely on. The ultimate purpose being…

1 Corinthians 2:4 – …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We have to do a better job as being present for each other, that all may see how practically we walk in the Spirit. Much preaching without concrete evidence will only go so far, for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Actions!

Do you consider yourself a faithful Christian – not a perfect one of course – then to whom do you evidently display yourself, so they may see you, know you, and learn from you?

Are you a great preacher? Do the people you preach – at least those who live in your city – know you just as much for your preaching as for your lifestyle? Or are the people left to suppose what that lifestyle may be?

We are indeed starving for role models. But it need not stay this way.

After all, wasn’t this the commandment of Christ…

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy showed us how exactly we ought to do it. Let us follow them.

February 9, 2017

Leading Like Jezebel in Thyatira

by Clarke Dixon

You have influence! In every relationship, in fact every encounter, you influence and are influenced. Even where there seems to be disengagement, there is still influence. As we continue our trip through the seven churches of Revelation,we meet a person of incredible influence in Thyatira. Not good influence, but incredible:

I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols. Revelation 2:20-21

You may have a Jezebel in your life, exerting incredible influence. Not good influence, but incredible. You may be the Jezebel in someone else’s life. Jezebel is not likely the real name of the woman in this church. Instead this is a nickname, pointing back to the wife of King Ahab in the Old Testament. The original Jezebel had incredible influence over the King. Not good influence, in that he was influenced away from Godly worship, but incredible. We have the capacity to influence and be influenced away from a God-focus. Therefore we need to take influence very seriously. So what are the leadership lessons we can learn from Jezebel?

One person’s influence can be extremely important. When you think of the great themes and scope of the Book of Revelation, it is remarkable that this one woman should get a mention. We are not told if she has an official leadership position. That does not matter, for we can wield incredible influence without an official position. I’ve seen some people wield incredible influence on individuals, and an entire church, even after they have passed away! Do not underestimate the kind of influence a Jezebel can have in your life, in your family, or in the life of your church. And don’t underestimate the power you exert over others. You do have influence. Are you using your influence to draw people toward Christ’s Kingdom, or away?

To claim to speak on behalf of God is a very big claim. Jezebel “calls herself a prophet” (verse 20). Broadly defined, a prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God. Jezebel was not doing that at all. Her advice directly contradicted that of the apostles at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 to stay away from idolatry and sexual immorality. Her advice directly contradicted the commands and wisdom of all the Scriptures from Genesis on. Do we allow people to “speak on behalf of God” in our lives who have no right to? Are the spiritual leaders of our lives full of Biblical truth and the Holy Spirit? Or are we sometimes the ones to get preachy without a good grasp of Biblical truth and fullness of the Holy Spirit?

That you reap what you sow is still true, and so what you sow as a person of influence is very important. Jezebel will reap what she has sown: “Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress, unless they repent of her doings” (Revelation 2:22).

Grace is a wonderful theme in the Bible and comes to its most profound expression in Jesus. In Jesus, we do not reap what we sow, we reap what He has already sown in his death and resurrection. He sows love, mercy, and forgiveness. We reap eternal life. We also reap what the Holy Spirit sows, a Kingdom life, a life marked by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But we might take a Jezebel detour. We might insist on doing the farming ourselves, throwing away the Holy Spirit’s seed, preferring to sow our own seed instead. Don’t be surprised by the weeds. If people are allowed to have a Jezebel influence in our lives, don’t be surprised by consequences. If we lead like Jezebel, don’t be surprised if like Jezebel, we reap what we sow. Let us reap what the Spirit sows instead.

Shepherding is a great image for leadership. The concept of leadership carries through the letter to Thyatira:

 To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end,
I will give authority over the nations;
to rule them with an iron rod,
as when clay pots are shattered—
even as I also received authority from my Father. Revelation 2:26-28

“To rule” in verse 27 is literally “to shepherd” and reflects the Greek translation of Psalm 2:9 quoted here. Christian leadership is not just influence for the sake of having power, it is about shepherding. It is not so much power over, but responsibility for. There are three aspects of shepherding to think about.

First, the shepherd is not the owner of the sheep, but is accountable to the owner. All leaders are accountable to God, even if they do not believe in Him.

Second, care of the sheep is an important aspect of the shepherd’s work. We can think of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me to lie down in green pastures.” The good shepherd leads the the sheep to good pasture.

Third, the shepherd is to have concern for the safety of the sheep. Looking to Psalm 23 again: “your rod and your staff — they comfort me.” Thy rod and staff comfort me because with them you can chase away predators.

Keeping in mind these aspects of shepherding, we can clearly see that Jezebel was no shepherd. In not repenting, she was not being accountable to God. She had no care or concern for the sheep. In fact she was leading them into danger. In contrast, Jesus is the good shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep (John 10). Are there Jezebels in your life who throw off accountability, who are influencing you though they have no care or concern for you? Are you a Jezebel, or do you shepherd people?

You are, whether your realize it or not, a person of incredible influence. But is it good? Are you a good shepherd, like Jesus? Or a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, like Jezebel?


Read more at clarkedixon.wordpress.com