A big part of being a member of the community of God is revealed in and through relationship. Leadership is not a task of leading people into activities of Christian work, but one of leading in Christ-like community. God appoints leaders to inspire each member to find a personal connection with the Holy Spirit that empowers them to grow in maturity and the destiny of Christ. Submission in the community of God is not a matter of control or the implementation of some form of hierarchical order. It simply a testimony of God joined members that grow together in the maturity process of being a community of God.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Submission is a matter of releasing the flow of relationship. It is important that those growing in their relationship with God receive those who have been sent into their lives as examples of faith. They are not only examples of faith, but activators, facilitators, and releasers of the life of Christ within their God-given sphere of influence. This is accomplished through life-giving and life-receiving relationships in a community expression of Christ. Relationship is the key ingredient in the community of God to being a testimony of Christ rather than a testimony of self. Relationship is the key, but God is the one who joins us together and then He expects us to figure out the relationship part. The disciples of Jesus didn’t pick Jesus; He chose them and then challenged them to follow Him. The disciples didn’t pick one another; Jesus chose them and then He expected them to figure out how to become friends.
Even in the organic flow of the community of God we look to one another as examples of true life and as inspirations to our own walks with God. We look to one another in the activation of our faith, but we never look to any human as the one who solves the challenges of our lives. We each have a relationship with God and God is the only one who holds the responsibility of the ultimate care of our lives. Leaders set an example of the shepherd, but they only serve to assist those they lead in finding their connection with Jesus, the Chief Shepherd of their souls in all things.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
A leader must know how to cast their cares upon Jesus and then lead others to doing the same. People very often want to make the pastors of the church or the leaders of a church the ones who solve their challenges in life. They seldom go to them when wanting to exercise their own freedoms, but often go to them when facing a crisis of some kind. They seldom give leaders credit when things are going well in their lives, but often blame them for their own failures. These things would not be so if we each embraced the responsibility of humbly submitting to the mighty hand of God as the one who cares for each of us. We must each accept our own responsibility of maintaining and embracing a process of growing in maturity in our relationship with God. That maturity is also made manifest in our relationship with one another. It affects our family, our marriage, our community, and every aspect of our everyday lives. Leaders must embrace this process of growing in maturity in relationships first and then they must lead others to do the same. The devil is an intimidator and he seeks to devour the weak through his pretenses of strength. He is not a lion, but he pretends to be one. Leaders must set an example of resisting him and teach those they lead to do the same. We resist the devil when we remain steadfast to God and one another in the midst of sufferings. It is our faith that overcomes all the things of the world and that faith comes by hearing God in our hearts in the midst of every situation in life. We can expect to face resistance so we must be watchful in our relationship with God and with one another.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
Suffering is part of the process of growing in the grace of God. It is by faith that we enter into grace and it is in grace that we experience resistance to the power of Christ that is within us.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
We can expect to face tribulations in our lives that require us to persevere. Our perseverance is a cheerful endurance to allow the power of Christ within us to transform the character of our lives to be Christ-like. When the character of Christ becomes real in our lives we experience the true hope of life. That hope is the power of Christ in us and it continually reveals the increasing glory of God in our lives. It is from glory to glory that He changes us from within. Leaders in the community of Christ must set and example in this and lead those within there measure of rule to do the same. This is the testimony of God’s grace at work in our lives.
1 Peter 5:10-11 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God wants each of us to know that suffering is part of life. The fatherless cultures of the world often believe that suffering is a testimony of abuse, but suffering is part of the process in growing in the grace of God in our lives. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things that He suffered.
Hebrews 5:8-9 … though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…
Embracing the grace of God in the midst of suffering will perfect our lives. It is the process of God’s perfection in our lives that will establish us in all things. As we are established we also become strengthened and we come to know the steadfast, immovable, always present love of God. We are settled in our confidence in Christ in us and in our midst as a community of His life. We are here for the glory of His name in all things!
I pray that we each of us find the grace of God in our journey together as communities of Christ. May leaders lead those in their responsibility to find the true life that comes from dependency upon Christ in all things. May we all grow as a community of relationship with God and with one another for the glory of God’s kingdom come and His will being done in the worlds in which we live.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson