For centuries, people have speculated about the key change Jesus instigated in the lives of his followers when he came into this world. What was different? What changed? How could such radical change occur? Why are our lives not so changed?
The key to change was the dream he shared--a dream of the kingdom of God. Must think correctly about the kingdom of God. Not think politics but task; not privilege but service; not power but accountability; not ownership but stewardship.
Prince left on extended trip. Arranged for assets to be placed in hands of trusted, able servants to protect and invest. Routine for those days. No banks, so such distribution was common. Servants were not only to protect but to invest. High profits were anticipated. Acquire old farms and make them operational. Acquire struggling businesses and restore them to profit. Purchase undeveloped property and add value to it. Wherever you do this, you introduce my authority and control, you establish my presence.
The acquisitions were to be enclaves where authority of absent prince was acknowledged. The secret is the use of assets for kingdom business. No story in NT makes it clearer what it means to be a Christ-followers in the real world, no story makes clearer what it means to lead Christ-followers. Each is a servant entrusted with assets. We are led to use those assets by others setting the example, encouraging us, training us, enabling us, empowering us. Everyday in this world, our task is simple--we press the authority of the prince of heaven into the dark places of this world.
Consider this quote from Martin Luther, quoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life Together:
Suggest in this longer intro something of our prob today. 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1 are familiar--old. Thus dangerous, we know it, not learn-relearn. Task is how to be fresh, relevant, biblical.
1. Consider first, what is our subject?
Our subject is kingdom business. Who will lead us in that business. Who will encourage kingdom business in your daily life? Who stands before you, guides, leads, sets the example. Who is shepherding, guiding. Who is standing out front? Who are our examples in kingdom business? Who feeds, teaches, equips (Eph. 4). While we must sometime ask about specific individuals, who?, God talks in generic qualities and character. This is the reason for the worksheet. We must have names, put in seven names, seven current elders. But we are not considering names, nor even considering men and personalities. We are considering God's word--we are attempting to impersonally consider qualities and character and characteristics. You can look at the sheet, consider, +,-, don't know. Be honest, ask about kingdom stuff, not good old boy stuff.
2. Here then are God's guidelines
A. He leads his family -husband of one wife -manages own family well, children obey B. He can lead outsiders (to Jesus) -above approach, has ear of outsiders -respected -good reputation with outsiders C. He can lead us (we will follow) -this is a work -temperate -respectable, respected -able to teach -holding fast the message to encourage others -able to refute those who -not quarrelsome -he will give an account D. He is led by God -temperate, self-controlled -hospitable -not given to drunkenness -not violent but gentle -not a lover of money -not a recent convert -lover of good, upright, holy, disciplined
Eph. 4. God gave....elders/pastors, probably pastor/teachers, one group, they are right there. God's purpose, plan, God's people.
Beautiful picture of church. Elders, teachers, leaders, examples. Doing the work they are to do. Not doing what the deacons are to do. Letting the deacons do the works assigned, but giving themselves to spiritual leadership, men of prayer, study, knowledge, able to share, leading spiritually.
I want to be like that person. I want to evangelize like that elder. I want to care like he does. I want to grow up-mature to be like him. Young men then want to be elders. Young women then want to marry men who will be elders and become wonderful elders' wives.
Outsiders will be drawn to a church maturing and growing into image of Jesus Christ. Give credence to our task, credibility. This is kingdom business. Who are we? Who will lead? Where will we go? Who will dream the dream? Who will see the way?
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