#WeAreEmmanuel Values / 03. #WeAreEmmanuel 3 Jesus Leads The Church Pt2

03. #WeAreEmmanuel 3 Jesus Leads The Church Pt2

Originally recorded on Sunday 21st January 2018. Visit http://weareemmanuel.com for more content. Joel Virgo.

At Emmanuel church, the Bible is God’s authoritative word. It must be approved of in the Bible to be approved in the church. As well as God’s word being authoritative in this sense, it’s also more tender and wonderful through His presence being revealed in its reading, teaching and proclamation. The Bible is therefore like no other book written or ever to be written because God breaks out through it.

An important analogy to help understand what leading a church is like is the difference between driving a car and a train. A train doesn’t have a steering wheel, so you only need to drive forward because the track keeps you on the right path. Comparatively, when driving a car, you’re consistently making steering decisions to ensure you don’t steer the wrong way. Leading a church is like driving a car. You are to lead with discretion, care, and purpose. It is not an automatic process. Continuing with the driving analogy, Satnav’s provide directions, but even then, there are individual decisions to make. For example, you should decide whether you’ve understood the Satnav. Additionally, there are things a Satnav will not tell you. Some things rely on our own sense as we grow in ourselves and learn. This analogy can help us understand what leading a Christian life is like. The Bible may not specifically touch on certain things in our lives. For example, what budget we should have annually in the church or what colour the carpet should be. In cases such as these, we are left to decide and therefore need to think about how we do it. The Bible is still final which means we must be diligent about it but also need to think how else do we follow the leadership of Jesus?

Prayer is our first calling:

Jesus leads his church through the Bible and his extraordinary example. Prayer is at the heart of being human. This may sound shocking as it can feel difficult. However, prayer is utterly natural to us. The reason it may feel unnatural isn’t because of how we were made by God but how we were unmade by our rebellion against Him in The Fall. Our first father, Adam, instead of living dependant on God, chose to be self-sufficient from God. Man saying to God ‘I will be free from you’ is like a branch saying to a tree ‘I will be free from you’, which results in the branch’s death because it’s either part of the tree or it’s nothing. Likewise, we humans are either dependent on God or we are nothing (John 15:4). The problem with this is we tend to prefer the nothingness we’ve inherited from the Fall. Jesus says the world prefers the darkness to the light (John 3:19).

The disciples noticed that Jesus was always praying and so asked to teach them how to pray, which he did (Matthew 6: 12). Prayer is how we can get back to being dependant on God. It is our first calling as Christians. If this is true about the individual believer, the Bible teaches it’s true about the church almost more so. John 15:4 reads ‘Remain in me, as I also remain in you..’ In our English culture, the word ‘you’ is singular for an individual person. However, in the culture of this passage, it would’ve been read in plural form, being perceived as ‘you people remain in me’. Throughout church history prayer has been prioritised. The book of Acts hardly has a chapter without a prayer meeting and most turning points in the story seem to pivot around moments of prayer. Church tends to be at its very best in an atmosphere of prayer.

2. Leaders who follow can be followed:

Adam’s nature is what tends to prevail in human lives– we’ve been trained in a world without God. This means there’s an atmosphere of the blind leading the blind because we tend to follow anything other than God and without the spiritual authority we were created to have. When Jesus came he gave his disciples authority (Mark 3: 14-15). He wanted them to learn that by following him, others can then follow them. He trained his disciples and this is what we’ve been called to also.

Scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 4:16 where Paul writes ‘I urge you to be imitators of me’, hints we should follow Jesus by also following those he gives us. This may go against the 21st century culture of being spiritual by getting away from people. However, this is not the culture of the Bible. It’s essential to swallow our pride and accept the gifts of leaders God has given and follow their example, whilst still understanding they’re not perfect.

How to follow leaders:

i. Get close – Paul writes in family terms ‘my beloved children’ (1 Corinthians 4:14-16). If you want to follow Jesus, join the church as you join a family with all the little conflicts, yet still passionate about loving and committing to one other.

ii. Watch - Wisely watch the outcome of the leader’s life (Hebrews 13:7).

iii. Follow – Choose who you follow carefully. We follow Jesus by following him first and leaders second.

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