"… And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God…."
Key point: The Christian leader is called to model and inspire gentleness, love, empathy, compassion—and, out of these, will flow forgiveness. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. A bad or unforgiving attitude will choke us off from His wonders (Prov. 3:7; James 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:6-7).
What does it mean to be a Christian? A Christian leader or pastor? It is to be "Christ-like," as to imitate Christ, Who is our Lord, so we can be and lead like Him. This means we follow Christ's example, because we are deeply loved. We can do this by Jesus' example, by His sacrifice for us. We can walk as His Children in His love and be loving and kind to others, so they will know Who He is by our example. Therefore, we can be people of honor and character, so we do not fall to sexual immorality or become greedy. We can be people who do not use bad language or tell inappropriate jokes. We can be people who do act foolish, nasty, or without sense. We do not have to connive or scheme. Rather, we are grateful with a clear knowledge that we owe God for all He has done. From this truth, we will be caring and pleasant to be around. As a leader, who are in Christ's Kingdom, we represent Him; we do not want to represent Christ through sin or foolhardy behaviors. People who are unrepentant and evil will have no part of Christ, and we should not follow in their behaviors. We should also be careful that we are not deceived by such wicked people so we do not partake of their foolishness and face the consequences of our bad choices.
What we exemplify and teach is that we think and consider what we have in Christ! To experience our new lives, not going back to our old lives. Real Truth is something we want to learn for effectual lives and churches. Many Christians were duped in new philosophies that stated as long as we are in Christ, our connection to purity is maintained; thus, we can sin and live as we please. We have no right to sin deliberately thinking, I am already forgiven so it is OK to sin (Col. 1:9; 3:1-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2)!
What we exemplify and teach is that we are examples of God! This is a call to follow Christ as Lord and not our whims, ideas, or anything that is false or contrary to His Word. The name "Christian" presupposes we are like Jesus Christ, receiving Him as Savior and as Lord as well as imitating His precepts. It means asking, "What would Jesus have me do?" Jesus taught and walked alongside others to show them His Way. We are to be examples of His call and reflect His precepts in our lives and into the lives of others. Make sure you and your church are doing as Christ does; make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20; Rom. 14:13-23; 15:1-6; Rom. 15:1-6 Eph. 5:1-2)!
What we exemplify and teach is that we are beloved children! God loves you and accepts you more powerfully, passionately, purposefully, and deeply than you could ever fathom! You are secure. God "guarantees" you with a clear, powerful, loving, impacting, and eternal relationship with Him. When you are in Christ, God is pleased with you! You have no need to fear; you are a person of deep value and worth before our Lord! You are forgiven because of Christ and His righteousness that covers you--not because of your deeds or performance. You are unique and complete in Him; and because of this, you are a special person whom God loves and will use to further impact His kingdom (John 6:37, 44, 65;13:1; 15:16; Rom. 5:1-8; Eph. 1:4-5; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:21-22; 2:10; 3:12-14; 1 John 1:5; 4:8-11; 5:)!
What we exemplify and teach is that to inmate God, we love! Because we are loved, we can and should respond out of gratitude to live your lives in love—the same sort of love which Christ. Living our lives because we are as beloved children, we will walk in love. We will be kind to one another. Which would you rather be given to you by the people around you, anger and bitterness, or kindness and love (1 Cor. 13)?
As leaders we set the tone and act as we have been redeemed. How? Bringing our minds, our wills, and our hearts to God so our whole life is about seeking Him and His will. Real Christianity is following after Christ in gratitude, as an offering, by what Christ has done. Pleasing ourselves is not what the Christian life is, as so many chase. We follow before we lead! We are to be imitators, so it transforms our being and character, then pursue His character, seeking what will Jesus have me do and be. We are to do this by and through love with kindness to others as Christ did with us, that we did not deserve.
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/