The Pain of Disappointment, Part 11 (Toward a More Christian Christianity, Part 5)

If what I’ve said to this point is true, then what are the measurables? What are the indicia that would indicate that the leadership of the church is successfully leading the church?

Well, plainly enough, the longer a Christian walks with Jesus, the more he should be like Jesus.

Therefore, the mark of great leadership would be that the oldest, longest-serving members are the ones most like Jesus.

Hmmm ….

And what characteristics would mark someone as “like Jesus”? Well, fortunately, the Bible answers this one repeatedly and plainly. Only a few examples should make the point.

(Luk 9:23-24 ESV)  23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

To follow Jesus is to live a life of self-denial and to become a sacrifice for his sake. In some sense, Christ-followers lose their lives — and thereby save their lives.

(Luk 14:26-27 ESV)  26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

(Luk 9:59-62 ESV)  59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus could wax a bit hyperbolic. He wasn’t urging us to literally hate our families. His point — in typically rabinnic language — was that we must prefer Jesus to our families.

Every time a missionary leaves parents behind to follow Jesus in another place, this command is honored. Every time a member suffers the anger and rejection of his family at Thanksgiving and Christmas in order to follow Jesus, this command is honored.

(John 13:14-17 ESV) 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Jesus washed the feet of Judas. Jesus washed feet because that’s the nature of true Deity. It’s therefore at the core of what it means to follow Jesus or to be a disciple.

(1Pe 2:21-25 ESV)  21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Our example in Jesus is to suffer without retaliation, without threats, without reviling. It’s submission even in injustice.

(Eph 5:1-2 ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

You see, it’s on the cross where Jesus is most truly our example. When we follow Jesus, we follow him to the cross. When we imitate Jesus, we imitate his submission to the powers that crucified him.

As a result, the measurable — the test — of whether we’re truly following Jesus is whether we’re becoming more like Jesus, which is whether we are more and more crucified for Jesus.

There’s more, of course, but this is the crux of the matter.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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8 Responses to The Pain of Disappointment, Part 11 (Toward a More Christian Christianity, Part 5)

  1. laymond says:

    We are not disciples of Jesus Christ, we are disciples of the Apostles, who are disciples of Jesus Christ. even Jesus defines his disciples from that of the apostles.
    In John 17: Jesus prays for “his disciples” but not only for his disciples but the disciples of his apostles.

    Jhn 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

    We believe through the written word of the “Apostles” because we have never once heard the “Word of God” directly from the mouth of his Son, Jesus Christ. ( as awesome as that would be, it just hasn’t happened.)

    Mat 10:1 And when he had called unto [him] his twelve disciples, he gave them power [against] unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
    (his twelve disciples, notice it does not say twelve of his disciples)
    Luk 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.) We all need to be careful especially in religious teachings, because we all have disciples, as teachers we are all responsible for our students/disciples.

    Yes being a leader in the local branch of Jesus’ Church is an awesome responsibility, if you lead another soul astray, it is worse than going astray yourself.

  2. Skip says:

    A servant heart, being like Jesus, devoted to prayer, humble, teachable, still growing, … As i heard it before, “If you think you are green – you grow. If you think you are ripe -you rot.

  3. Skip, that “proverb” is awesome!

  4. Skip says:

    Laymond, We have never “heard” the word of God directly from the Apostles either. We only know what we read. Plus, Mark was not even an Apostle and he wrote a whole gospel account. I am a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t follow men including the Apostles. When men knelt before Paul and Barnabbas, they begged the men to stop. All scriptures are “God breathed” and “The word of God”. Thus, when I read the “Sermon on the Mount”, I am reading what Jesus said and I am following Jesus directly. The scriptures on Jesus and his words are voluminous.

  5. John says:

    The one thing that most of us can agree on is that most leaders of the church are, what we would call, good people. However, many, if not most of these leaders, fail in one important area, and that is in the protection of the meek, the timid, the new-born, and the weak against the powerful, the rich, the “knowledgeable” and many who are simply church bullies.

    One of the grand examples of Jesus was his care and tenderness of those he described as “these little ones”. I love that term. I believe that leaders cannot protect those who they do not compassionately hold in their hearts as “their little ones”. No, those exact words may not be in their minds when they look upon and think of those under their care, but the tenderness must be there.

    Too often I have heard leaders who did not want to get involved say to the one who could not stand up for self, “Well, there isn’t much we can do about people’s personalities”. This excuse has been used to death, and it has resulted in the spiritual and emotional deaths of many who could have been the most compassionate and healing, if only they had received the same.

  6. Skip says:

    The collective leadership should present the whole package: able to teach, compassion, clear mission, involved, counselors, examples, servants, etc. The group should not be one dimensional.

  7. laymond says:

    Skip, as far as I know Jesus left no writings, only his apostles, and those who followed his apostles left any written account of Jesus while he was on earth, and the message he gave to them in person. I am sure there were many who came to see Jesus and hear him preach/teach , but there were very few who could claim to be a student of the great teacher and to have studied under him. There is a great difference in studying about Jesus, and studying under him.

  8. Skip says:

    Laymond, thus it requires more faith on our part to know the word is as true for us as Jesus, the living word,was for them. Our experience is just as meaningful but on a different level.

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