On Good Friday, one man didn’t get to carry a cross. But another one did – and it wasn’t Jesus. Understanding him is the key to Christian discipleship.
Month: April 2016
There is a stubbornness in the way the Bible refuses to glamorise the Christian life. We shall never escape the reality of conforming to Jesus’ death, until we ourselves die.
We follow a crucified Saviour. That sounds obvious, but it always needs repeating. Because the penny never seems to drop. Not all the way, all the time.
One weakness in much preaching today is that it is quite individually applied, and in a way that can be transplanted from one church to another without too much difficulty. It is not focussed enough on a particular congregation, and therefore lacks the force to move that church to better obedience.
In Paul’s mind the potential elder must show a double gifting from Romans 12: an ability to teach must be partnered to an ability to lead.
Churches, like any human organisation, cannot operate long-term as shapeless, improvised groupings. And even though an occasional New Testament scholar will suggest that the first few decades of the church had an exciting, free-form style, which only much later hardened into a hierarchy, when we turn to the New Testament, we can see that the experience of the very first Christians was much more complex.
Do you have a passion to see the lost found, and the found built up? Do you have a desire to see the gospel understood, churches planted, men and women converted, children growing in their faith, and for you to be playing a part in that for the rest of your life? Do you treasure your time in God’s Word, and love to see it opened among his people so they are dazzled by his wonder? Then you’ve identified what he means to aspire and desire this noble task.
What is the alternative to self-centred, rebellious ambition? Is there a way of rewriting ambition, so that it can appear in a God-centred, passionate, obedient way?
That’s what Diotrephes heard – that he would be first, that he would be like God. That he would rule the church, that he would be its saviour, that he would be its sole source of truth, that he would be the exclusive centre of its relationships, and that he would be worshipped.
Ambition is a strange, wonderful, glittering but dangerous characteristic for any Christian leader. With it, we can achieve amazing and faithful gains for the kingdom; without it, we are passive, workshy, and go with the flow. But with it we can also domineer, control and make ourselves the enemy of a grace-filled gospel. The New Testament gives us clear examples of the best and worst kinds of ambition.