Hebrews 13 is where we are going to be. This is the last message that we’re going to go through together in the series of Hebrews. We’re going to start a new series called Planted in just a couple of weeks going through the book of Titus. We’re going to use this as an opportunity not only to look through the book of Titus, which is an important book in the New Testament, but to also talk about where our church fits into the picture of what God desires to do in His community throughout the ages, really. But Paul wrote the letter to Titus about establishing and planting a church in Crete. A lot of it relates to where we are in the history of our church. So we’re going to look at the foundation of our church family as we go through a series together in the book of Titus called Planted. So just so you can anticipate that. We’ll be talking about healthy church and what healthy church should look like.
Today, we’re going to talk about an interesting topic. I’m going to tell you, today makes me uncomfortable, because we’re going to talk about Godly community lived internally and Godly community lived externally. That’s not the part that makes me feel uncomfortable. We’re going to talk about what a Godly community looks like here, and then we’re going to talk about what a Godly community looks like beyond these walls. What makes me uncomfortable is that we’re going to talk about leadership, as it relates to church leadership in the context of Godly community together.
Leadership should be a good, honorable thing to talk about, but it’s weird to know that you’re in a position like that and then you’re sort of talking about something that relates to you. So that’s where we’re going today. In the history of our church, we haven’t talked a lot about leadership on Sunday morning. We’ve cautiously and carefully, I think, worked to help shape that here at our church. But I think it’s something that we take seriously in how we qualify leaders here at ABC and what we want that to look like. It’s something that the foundation that we’re going to be laying more so here in the future.
Some of you may not be aware of this, but we’re considered a church plant. We’re not a fully independent church yet because other resources from outside of the state of Utah is funneled here to ABC for us to be able to sustain as a ministry. So we started this church in a living room. We’ve moved about six different times. We’ve done a few projects here as well. So we’ve beginning from the baby stage to the crawling and now walking. It’s been beautiful to see how God has grown our community here that makes a difference in the area in which we are living.
So leadership is a part of that, something that we want to put out for us, understand how that looks for ABC and the health of our church. In discussing some thoughts on leadership today, I want you to know this isn’t going to be this comprehensive idea of everything related to leadership. Nor is it going to specifically focus just on our church. I think we’ll talk a little bit about our church in today’s message, but this is going to carry thoughts related to leadership, no matter where you are in life. You can apply this to leadership in the business world. You can apply this to any other church context in which you are a part of. This is just some important things to talk about as it relates to leadership.
As I consider this topic today, there’s so many things I would want to touch on that necessarily this text doesn’t talk about. When it comes to leadership, I think it is rare to go through life and not be exposed to unhealthy leadership at some point. If we’re truthful, at some point we’ve probably not only experienced unhealthy leadership, but not always led in the most healthy ways in our own lives. We’re going to have ups and downs as it relates to people in their leadership, but bad leadership should not prohibit any of us from following Jesus. If a bad leader is the reason we stop following Jesus, I think it’s worth posing the question, “Were we ever really following Jesus to begin with?”
I know that’s a very stark statement to make, and I know sometimes when you’re exposed to bad leadership, sometimes that send you reeling. Sometimes there’s some questioning in your heart. But at the end of all of that, our heart needs to come back to the place of my pursuit in life is for Christ and Christ alone. There’s going to be ups and down when you experience people in this world. People are people no matter where you go. The joy of ministry is people and the struggle of ministry is people. The challenges that we find in our relationships with one another, I think those become the place that really try our own hearts to examine what it is that we’re really pursuing.
Anybody can love when it’s easy to love. Anyone can have patience when it’s easy to have patience. Anyone can reflect Godly character when it’s easy to reflect Godly character. But it’s God’s people that rise above those circumstances and chose to follow after the Lord in the midst of adversity. So while I know there’s difficulty in leadership, it’s not always perfect … And I don’t think we always have to submit to leadership. I think The Bible talks about definitely honoring. Don’t throw mud. When someone acts nasty, ugly, ungodly, that’s not our excuse to ever throw mud back. That’s not what we’re about in God’s community. It’s not good, because someone else is dishonoring to then dishonor them. We wallow around in the same pit that they wallow in when that happens.
So I think it’s always good to honor people in general. If you can’t honor the person, honor the position. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put yourself under that authority. Does that make sense? Sometimes people get so toxic and unhealthy, that it’s good to distance yourself from that. When we think about this passage, I want us to know this passage isn’t necessarily talking about that. There’s passages of scripture that relate to how to interact when leadership goes to a bad place. But I just want us to know that it doesn’t mean you always have to submit if someone gets to the place where they’ve become so toxic it’s unhealthy for the body of Christ.
With that being said, let me talk about Godly community lived internally. These first few words are exactly why I start off this saying it’s the one that you necessarily want to pick as the verse for Sunday. Like if I just had to go through scripture, I’d pick the warm and fluffy, make everybody happy and let’s go home and smile kind of thing. But then it says these words, “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” I know submit is a six letter word, but it almost is like we treat it like a four letter word sometimes. What does it mean when you read this in scripture? Obey your leaders and submit to them.Submit is a scary thing, especially if leadership isn’t that great. What if leaders are unhealthy?
When you think about the biblical idea of submission, though, as it relates to this passage, submission in scripture really builds beautiful community. When you read about, let’s say for instance, Ephesians 5:21, Paul starts in verse 20 of Ephesians 5, starting to talk about the marital relationship. The first thing that he says in bringing up the marital relationship is, “Submit to one another as in Christ.” Then he starts to build this picture, “Wives submit to your husbands.” Then on the other side of that, he says, “Husbands, die for your wives.” There’s this picture in both instances, this laying down their life for the benefit of the other.
When we look at this word “submission” as it’s described in scripture, it’s the same picture in the body of Christ. There’s certain positions within scripture, but what we’re going to see in this passage of Hebrews is this idea of submission, not a one-sided picture. But the biblical picture of submission is God’s people laying their lives down for the benefit of others. Now I know when we talk about this word “submit”, it gets a little uncomfortable, I think for everybody. Because there becomes with position, the opportunity to abuse. So you think of creatures God’s made in this world. When God makes a mouse, God makes a horse. Mice, I’m sure, are good for something, but when you think about a horse, you can do a lot of productive things with a horse. But when that horse doesn’t live in the boundaries for which it was created to do productive things, it can also be very damaging.
Same thing is true with position. Sometimes there is position that comes with more power because of the authority given, and it can become very damaging. So when you talk about submission, and you look at leadership and things of that nature, sometimes within us there’s this idea of being skeptical and defensive over that. I think that it’s worthy to vet anyone over any position in life. The higher the position is, the more we should focus on vetting the individual as it relates to the area in which they lead in life. So when it comes to the biblical picture of leadership, I think it’s important to just get an idea, when scripture talks about leading, what that looks like. Because in your own life, there are positions in your life where you wear the hat of leader, and there are positions of your life where you’re under maybe someone that is a leader.
So what does that look like? God has got us in a place in life to be influencers in some area in some way. This morning, the way you encourage one another. You have the ability to influence, to speak life or to speak death into the hearts of people around you. To use your lips to express praise to God or destruction. So we all have the ability to lead in some way. What is the biblical picture of leadership? In society, it’s sort of this top down approach, where it just rolls downhill onto the people, that you want to be the top dog to sort of tell everyone else what to do. In scripture, there’s a different structure than the common worldly perspective that we would see in our society today.
In fact, if I just gave you a few sections of scripture that I like related to leadership … I don’t have time to dive into all of these, but I just want you to see the way The Bible paints the picture of what leadership is about. So Philippians 2, one of my favorite sections of scripture. This section of scripture was actually an early creed the church sang within in the first couple of years after Jesus’s crucifixion. Paul included this hymnal creedal statement in the book of Philippians 2 in describing leadership. He says this, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus, who though He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped.”
The way I always interpret this for us is just to say, look, Jesus was the most important person in the room, and he’d have to go in the room and say, “Hey guys, I’m the most important person in the room.” Jesus was a servant. But He emptied Himself for seven, taking the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men, being found in the appearance of a man. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. So see, this servant mentality with Jesus and His perspective in this world. He came as leader of all, king of kings, Lord of lords, but He subjected Himself the servant of all.
In Matthew 20, Jesus’s disciples are actually debating who’s going to be the second greatest person underneath Jesus. In fact, James and John get their momma involved. They’re like, “Will you talk to Jesus and tell Him to make us number two and three?” So Mom goes to Jesus like, “James and John are the best. They’re the prettiest, they’re the smartest, they’re the strongest.” She just shares with Jesus. Then Jesus is like … “Okay, let’s just have a conversation of leadership here, because your perspective is skewed.” So Jesus teaches on leadership. He says in verse 25, “Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers, the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It’s not this way among you. Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
So Jesus talks about leadership and the servant mentality. Just so they understood exactly how that picture looked like, He’s like, “It looks like this. My example for you is Me, and I die. So you die.” In 1 Peter 5, I would say these first four verses of 1 Peter, if you want to go look at the full context, he’s describing church leadership here. In verse 3 it says this, “Nor yet is lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” Then he goes on in verse 4 and he compares it to shepherding.
I love that scripture does that. It compares leadership to shepherding, because when you look in the history of shepherding in scripture, shepherding wasn’t a glamorous position in The Bible. I know for us, it’s become sort of a biblical romantic thing to think about, because David was a little shepherd boy that became a king, and he wrote beautiful psalms, and he played the little ukulele in the fields. It’s such a nostalgic thing to consider. But when you think about the position of shepherd in scripture, it was not a glamorous position. In fact, it was kind of the job that you got when you weren’t good for any other job in David’s day. “Ah, send them out to the fields. They’re worthless.” That was kind of the perspective of the people.
So shepherding wasn’t this glamorous position. I love that, because God compares leading to shepherding. It’s not this glamorous thing where it’s about climbing the ladder and being at the top. It’s about taking the lower road and serving people to help them become all that God’s called them to be. It’s about dying to self for the sake of others.
So 1 Peter paints this picture. You see that Matthew, you see in in Philippians. When you think about what God’s led you to be in this world, and the image is Jesus, and the image is about getting beneath people to help them become all that God has called them to be. But when you look at this passage in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them”, a couple things I just want to point out to us as we think about texts like this. God calls the church to appoint Godly leaders. That’s the way it can be assumed from this passage of scripture. You take all of Hebrews, all the way through 13 chapters. Really interesting that I’m taking one verse and fixating on it this morning, because in 13 other chapters, we never really talk much about leadership. Everything has been about Jesus and our pursuit of Him as God’s community.
Then he pauses in this one section and talks about leadership. So I don’t want this override the whole point of this book that we’ve seen together, but nonetheless, the point’s made here in this section of scripture in a very simplistic way that God calls the church to appoint Godly leaders. That necessarily not making submission any easier, but nonetheless, leadership becomes important. If I just gave some crazy examples, sometimes it’s fun to leave the church office unlocked and just sit in here and see who comes in off the streets. Because you get people that come in every once in a while … Like I’ll have a guy that comes in, pronounces that they’re here to lead the church. Sometimes I get the wonderful position of saying, “That’s crazy, and we’re not following that crazy train anywhere.” Like, I’m glad you think God’s told you to come in here and tell you that you should be leading this church, but that’s not how this works.
So there’s a sense that leadership’s necessary to guard the gate. Sometimes you’ll think, “We’re a community, we’re a church. Therefore being a church, it means we have an identity.” In the identity, there’s a particular truth that we want to hold to. Sometimes you get people that come in that think that we’re about whatever you want to believe. Like your God is whoever you want your God to be, which is really not God at all. I think we’ve said as a church if your image of God agrees with everything that you agree with, then what you’re following is not God. It’s an idol that you made in your image.
God challenges us every day. The reason we walk in this door is because we know we’re not perfect and we want to align our hearts with the God who is. God is God, we’re not. And God doesn’t agree with everything that agree with, because I’m a fallible man. So there’s a need to hold to biblical truth and to be able to stand for that and not bend when people think that belief is just whatever you want it to be. God is who He says He is, not who I make Him to be. So that becomes important.
The scary thing in leadership … And I don’t really want to freak you out today, but in those two examples, that’s really not where you have to be concerned. The concern is what Jesus calls in Matthew 7:15 is with wolves. Now I’ll tell you in ministry, I like to play offense way more than defense. I like to live in the way God has called me, not so much worry about everything that can go wrong. But Jesus talks about Matthew 7:15, he talks about wolves. The interesting thing about a wolf … And Jesus describes it as a wolf in sheep’s clothes. The interesting thing about a wolf is that a wolf never thinks they’re a wolf. They always just think that they’re simply a misunderstood sheep. So if you just kind of get their perspective, then you’ll agree with them. So they kind of try to win people to their side. Those are the people that need to be maybe more concerning.
We’re going to end this series by looking at Ignatius, here at the end of the sermon. But last night I was going through the history of Ignatius. He was martyred in 108 A.D. His martyrdom date would actually be Wednesday of this coming week. Ignatius, right before he got martyred, he was eaten by animals in the Roman coliseum. They tore him to shreds. Right before he was martyred, he started writing letters out. Ignatius was discipled by the Apostle John. So when you go back in church history, you can see the disciples of the disciples. It’s incredible how church history communicates itself. But Ignatius, when he wrote his letters, he wrote seven letters. But he really focused on three things.
One, he talked about his martyrdom being happy to lay down his life for Jesus, the way Jesus laid down his life for him. He encouraged the church in unity, to work together, to serve one another for the benefit of Christ. The last focus of his letters was to be concerned about the message that they shared, because the purity of what that message is is what sets people free. Don’t compromise that. Jesus died for a reason. The world may not always accept it, but that’s okay. You live for Jesus. That was his messages to the church. Don’t give it over to the wolves.
Leadership has the opportunity to do that, so Godly leadership becomes important. The author then begins to explain why … In the rest of Matthew, just highlighted these verses to us. Remember I said to us, when The Bible talks about submission, it doesn’t really ever just say it to one person. It always talks about both sides of the fence. So when it comes to leadership, it says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, and this is why, for they keep watch over you. They keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
Don’t worry, at the end of this, I’m not going to say, “And I’m going to tell you 17 things to do.” I’m not interested in that. But this is what it’s saying about leadership. They keep watch over you. This literally means that they’re sleepless. I don’t know if you guys think about this, but I lose sleep over you. Or church leadership in general, they’re called to give their lives to the extent that they’re restless or sleepless over what God has entrusted them. At least, good leaders should be. Then it says, “As those who will give an account.”
You guys can relate to this. Anything that you’re responsible for in life, when it stresses you out, sometimes it weighs on your heart, you think about it, you lift it up in prayer before God. Keep watch over them. Then they will give an account. I love this scare the snot out of you statement. There’s extra responsibility that comes with this. That’s a thought that I consider very soberly when pursuing God and life, and anything you do in speaking for God. There is an account to that. You want to do it with precision, you want to do it with care, you want to do it in love. So we give an account.
The last statement, “This would be unprofitable for you.” So it’s saying when you think about leadership, this thoughts here with leaders, that they’re giving their lives restlessly or without sleep here. They’re going to give an account in this, and they’re doing it for your profit. So as they’re laying their lives down for this, for the benefit of someone else, so you lay your life down for the benefit as in service for one another for what God has called that body of Christ to be. So this last statement is saying about leaders … So you see these three thoughts. Keep watch over you, they will give an account, and then they’re doing this for your profit.
I’ll talk a little bit about this in just a few moments as it relates to what is the whole point of leadership. But the idea is it’s not about their gain, but about the profit of God’s community. So it encourages the body of Christ that when people do things for the Lord, to allow them to do this with joy, not to be a thorn but a blessing. I think that should be true with anything that we do in life. By the way, when we talk about leaders in this verse, I don’t think it just means elders in the church, or pastors in the church. I think it’s people that just step up to lead for the cause for the cause of Christ. We want to encourage them, want to exhort them. We want to affirm them, we want to commission them. We want to recognize their gift in this, and declare where we see God working in their lives, so they can run the race that God has called them to run.
Truthfully, if I’m being completely frank with this, God’s called us all to lead, guys. There’s a statement, I think it was by Charles Spurgeon that said there are two types of Christians. One that lives their lives as missionaries for the Lord, and there are impostors. That’s it. So what he’s saying is God’s called us all to lead. So there’s a certain characteristic when you start thinking about your influence as you live in light of God, and you start gaining wisdom. I think God expands your opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people around you.
You think as an adult, and you first step out on your own and living on your own, you’re happy to have the bean bag all duct-taped, and maybe the television with the rabbit ears. But as you go on in life, you start accumulating some things. The more you live your life, the more you become responsible for. With the things that you’re responsible for, what kind of leader do you demonstrate being?
You think about in verse 17, he says, “Leaders laying themselves down for the benefit of the other.” If you look at the rest of the context of this passage, Paul starts talking about himself and Timothy in verse … Or excuse me, the writer of Hebrews, which is Paul. Verse 19 and verse 23, look what he says, “And I urge you all the more to do this so that I may be restored to you the sooner.” He’s asking them to pray for him in verse 18, so that he can be restored to them. Because he’s looking to serve again. I want to be out of prison to better serve. Then verse 23, “Take notice that our brother Timothy has also been released, with whom if he comes soon, I will see you.” He’s saying, “Timothy, he’s in jail. He’s about to get taken back out of jail.” He’s given his life to the point he’s gone to jail for this. He could’ve been martyred for this, but he’s just wanting to get back to just bless and serve the body of Christ.
If leaders are only leading for the position they receive, then it’s not Godly. Leaders don’t need titles, they don’t need position. They’re given place of influence, and they just seize the opportunity for the benefit of others. Yeah, titles might happen along the way, positions may be clarified. Really the driving force behind it all is, “How can I bless the people around me?” What has God given me the opportunity to do and leverage in the privilege in living for Him?
I would point out to us as well in this section that when it talks about leaders, that the church in reference to this, it’s saying it in the plural form. I think that’s important. It’s not just saying, “Obey a leader”, but it’s saying leaders, meaning in our lives we should have multiple leaders influencing us, speaking into us, sharing things with us that are even difficult. When I first became a Christian, one of the things that I loved … And I didn’t realize that this was not normal in Christianity until a little later, but I was immediately discipled by the church leaders where I was at. They said hard things to me all the time. We were very transparent and candid with each other, learning to expose ourselves in the difficulties that we faced in life, the areas where we were weak. Sometimes we did stupid stuff.
All of that, it was just, we could just speak candidly into one another’s life because our goal wasn’t so much just about ourselves, but it’s about helping self become what God has called us to be. It’s about Jesus and His glory. That was more important to us than our own personal preference and our own pride that we wanted to hide behind by in our hurt feelings. By the way, I … Unbuttoned button. Tell me when that happens. I’m talking about being transparent and saying things to each other and my shirt’s not even on all the way.
But this is saying in this passage that not in singularity but in the plurality leaders. I think this is important for churches to think about, that a church shouldn’t function in just this CEO model, where top dog leads it all. but Godly individuals speaking in the lives of one another for the benefit of the body, for the benefit of what God’s called us to be. I’ve seen churches function in the idea of CEO model, where one guy sits on the throne and rules it over. I’ve seen them go very well. I think if you’ve got a Godly guy in that position, then it can happen. But if not, it can become unsafe and abusive.
When you look in verse 17, one of the things that’s happening in Hebrews here, is that they’re assuming that healthy leadership is already in place. So this passage isn’t saying, “This is what you do with unhealthy leadership”, but rather assuming that it’s there. So it’s taking all of the 13 chapters of Hebrews and saying, “Now, let’s make the application so the church can run.” Remember we started this idea in chapter 12. Run the race that’s set before you. So he’s used these two verses talking about how a church can run this race, and live in light of what God has called us to do.
When you think about healthy leadership, not so much specific to this verse, accountability with the degree of position is important. You think in secular jobs in this world, work at a fast food place, get the order together. We’re not checking all of the credentials of someone, but we want to know, “Do you have the ability to get the order together and get it out?” But if you go to the doctor to get an operation, you want to make sure they didn’t pick him up at the veterinarian clinic on the way. Like, okay, it’s a little more serious here than just getting my burger and fries. What kind of doctor are you? How many times have you done this surgery? Am I your first one? Is this the guinea pig here before you? You want to make sure that with the position, there’s been the proper accountability and vetting. Is it trustworthy? Is there rigor to the leadership? Are they quick to just appoint someone there? Do they possess Godly character? Are they transparent, approachable, accountable? Do they have have people of equal position speaking into their lives?
One of the reasons we’re going to go through Titus together is because Paul lays out how to qualify leadership. Being as a church plant, we have a plurality here. We have a board and our constitutional bylaws that we operate by for decision-making, but we’re part of a church plan organization. When we leave that organization, which we’re pretty close to doing, we’ll be officially planted. We will bring leadership in front of the church to demonstrate the process of how we appoint leaders here. We’ll give the congregation a place to vet the people that we want to appoint in official leadership positions, as a plant the church. Because we want to have this place to see whether or not someone is trustworthy in submission and leadership.
Then Paul goes on from here. In verse 18, he says this, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desire to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” Reality is, no matter how hard you try to be Godly, as verse 17 describes, we’re sinful. What anyone needs in order to to walk with Jesus, I think, in this world is a sense of humility. None of us have arrived. I remember one time being in a church and watching this guy get up. He was a guest speaker and he did not know his bible. He got up and spoke and he said, “I’ve gotten so holy, I don’t sin anymore.”
It’s like I’m glad someone’s made it. Let’s everybody stand up and give him a round of applause! But instantly in my mind I’m thinking, “Man, if you would just read … When you go home tonight, read 1 John 1 please.” Because it says in verse 8, “If we say we have not sinned, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves. No one’s perfect. Even the Apostle Paul in this verse, “Pray for me. We have a good conscience, but I’m thinking about old dude over here that’s watching my prison cell and I’m about to go crazy on him.”
Don’t do this in your mind right now, but maybe in your life at some point, you’ve thought of someone that when they get in your presence, all of a sudden you start getting that tick. You’re like, “I’m going to blow up!” But when it comes to pursuing Jesus, you have way more to lose by responding by throwing mud as they’ve done that towards you, because you’re in a position to speak life into their life, to represent Christ. By dishonoring them, you could also dishonor Christ in their lives. So Paul’s saying, “Look, the struggle is real.” People are hard. Sometimes I just want to open my mouth and let them know how hard they are. But I live for a king, and He’s called me in this world. What He’s in transforming my heart has been so incredible. You think Paul’s been a murderer, and what He’s done in my heart has been so incredible. I know He can transform that heart. I don’t want to lose the place in this person’s life to speak truth and not death, to see how God can transform.
So here’s this leader that many would look at as, “Man, this is the most Godly Christian to ever live!” He’s saying, “Pray for me.” I walk in this world with humility, because I work in this world in the flesh. But I want to live for God. So no matter much you splice this, no matter how much you try to find the most perfect scenario, I don’t think it exists apart from God’s people just learning to walk in humility. So this is how Godly community lives internally. But can I tall you guys, our idea in this isn’t to get fixated on some hierarchy in the church, because that’s not what ultimately God called us to. The church isn’t an organization that lives for itself, the church is an organization or an organism that lives for outside of itself.
If all Jesus was interested in was your salvation, as soon as you’re saved, man He’d take you out of the world. But He’s called you in this world to be a light in the midst of darkness. So that’s why when we look at all of Hebrews, the first 13 chapters, when it talks about leadership, he only talks about it in one verse, because he understands that this is here for just a reason, and then we’ve got to get beyond this reason so we can do what God has called us to do. So you ask the question, “Well, why does leadership exist? It’s not to get focused on climbing some corporate ladder. He says it like this in Ephesians 4, he says, “And God gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the service, for the building up of the body of Christ. So we all attain to the unity of the faith.”
Why does God establish any leadership? He tells us in verse 11. The answer is in verse 12. For the equipping of all of us to do what God has called us to do in Him. It’s to get underneath people to leverage whatever gifts that you have to serve the body of Christ so that we can become all that God has called us to be. That’s it. It’s not about butts in the seats, but God’s people in the streets. It’s not about our seating capacity, but our sinning capacity. It’s about discipleship, that’s what he’s saying. It’s about helping us learn and grown in God’s word so we can leverage that outside the world. It’s not about being ingrown, but about externally thinking how God has called us to multiply.
For our church, our vision for this church when we started, we picked this area because it was the highest concentration of a population that didn’t have an established church in a city. We wanted to see a church established here that could grow. We’re not about building a kingdom. We have no grandiose plans of building an auditorium that seats thousands of people. That’s not the concept of what we think scripture shares. Now, that could happen. We can have a large church one day, who knows? But our desire is to multiply. That’s what discipleship is about, multiplication. So our dream is to have built a facility that can accommodate about 300 to 400 people and just keep growing, because we see cities around us within this county that have never had a mainstream Christian church at all.
How do you have a country where people left from another country of persecution to go to a land, to establish a place in Christ to still have entire cities being built without churches? It makes no sense! If God’s community has a message that’s that freeing, that delivering, then we should do something with that. It’s not this ingrown process of a hierarchal structure. It’s about multiplying and leveraging all that underneath of us so that we can become disciples capable in Jesus of declaring what Jesus has done in our lives.
Okay, for the equipping of the saints. Now look at this. If we go back to Hebrews for just a moment. “The God of peace who brought us from the dead, the great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant”, the eternal covenant, by the way is the New Covenant, “Even Jesus our Lord, equipping you in every good work. This is to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.” So look what he says in verse 21. Very first word, look. To equip you in every good thing. That’s exactly what we read in Ephesians 4:12, “Equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. To Him be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
I’ve got to say this quick, but we’re talking about church planting in the series ahead. Do you know, we don’t really plant the church? Jesus says in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail.” Jesus builds the church. What God calls us to is to make disciples. Matthew 28:19. When you make disciples, Jesus builds His church. Our goal really isn’t to build church, not a building. It’s to make disciples.
What it’s saying in this passage is when we think about doing this in this world is the same God that resurrects Jesus by that power from the dead is the God that’s at work in you. This is not foreign to us. This is not a power second to us. This is the same God moving in this way, working in His people. So you think about, “God, how can we do this?” Well, there’s resurrection power within God’s people. So the message that we share and the things that we declare in this world become significant because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave in order to make disciples for Christ is working in His people so that we can make disciples for Christ.
Okay, verse 20-25. I’m going to share this and be done. “I urge you, brother. Bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” So he’s saying all of Hebrews was really a sermon. The author is just laying his heart out there on the significance of who Jesus should be in our lives. So take this message, these 13 chapters and I urge you, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Verse 23, “Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released with whom if he comes soon, I will see you. Greet all of your leaders and all the saints, those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all.”
I love the end of this, because it’s saying kingdom folk isn’t just about your church, but it’s about the church. Look what God’s doing around the world. When I think about the history of Christianity. I told you about Ignatius. I think of the early disciples, the 11 that Jesus had. Judas was taken out before Jesus’s crucifixion, or right around the time of Jesus’s crucifixion I should say. But the other 11, 10 of them go on to by martyrs. One of them lives a long life, but he suffered tremendously for Christ, was the Apostle John. Apostle John went on and discipled church leader. Ignatius and Polycarp were two of them. You can still their writings today. How did they live their lives? How did they see Rome transformed? What kind of leaders were they?
You see the life of Ignatius, so much believing in the life to come that he willingly gives his earthly life for his heavenly life. It’s that kind of leadership that makes a difference. It’s that kind of leadership that impacts the world around them. So when we talk about leaders, guys, truth is God calls us all to be them. I know there’s different degrees of leading, but God calls us all to lead for Him in some capacity, in some way. What kind of difference do you make?
You’ve seen the demeanor of what a leader is. We’ve looked at those passages. But I can tell you the driving force behind it all, the humility and sacrifice of His people because of what Christ has done and emulating Him in our lives, the transforming Jesus power that resurrected Jesus from the grave works through us and in His people as well.