"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Matthew 17:5
Matthew 17:1-13; 2 Peter 1: 12-21
Is your church's direction from Christ our Lord or from what is happening now?
Key point: As church leaders today, we must acknowledge Christ's Holiness, and get our direction from Him, molding ourselves after Christ rather than trends, the latest ideas, or what you think will work. Purely and simply, leadership is learned by first being a child and a servant of Christ. Neither an intellectual awareness nor Christian activity means anything without Christ. We must be His to do as He wills; this takes our acceptance of Christ first, then our commitment and continual faith (example: Ezek. 34: 1-10; Luke 15:3-7; John 10:1-18; 13:1-17; 21:15-17; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:3; love: Gal. 5:22-23; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 4:9-10; 5:8-13; 1 John 4:7-11; humility: 1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 25; Luke 22:27; Col. 1:18; Phil. 2:8; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:3-5)!
Jesus, for the most part, has led a life of humility and humiliation. He, being fully God, rarely showed His Divinity, yet was steadfast to His mission. Then, all of the humiliation and misunderstanding collapsed. Jesus gives them a glimpse of real Holiness. You can imagine the reaction! This was not just a revelation of God's holiness; it was also a glimpse of Hope they could use to carry them through the troubled times ahead. For us, it means the working of the Holy Spirit in our inner life that transforms us (Rom. 8:11; 12:2; Col. 3:18).
In the story of the Transfiguration, we see what we need for Church leadership, a response, fell on their faces. This was extreme fear. We have this notion of a "teddy bear"-like God who is just love and comes to us as a dad. This is true; however, He is also most Holy, and, in the Bible, every encounter a person had with God or an Angel was met with that person experiencing utter terror. We are only able to come to God by what Christ has done. Jesus Christ removes the terror so we can experience His love as Abba, Father, daddy.
Fear is how we are to come before God, and with humbleness (1 Pet. 5:6).
It is a term of endearment and respect that is supercharged with more meaning and power because it infers intense reverence and awe of God and His holiness (Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 3:5; 8:13; 9:10; 16:6; 31:30; Psalm 2:11; 34:11; 111:10; Isa. 12:6; Eccl. 12: 13; Mal. 1:14; Matt. 10: 27-33; Rom. 2:11; James 2:1). It does not mean being afraid of God, rather fearful of His wrath and trustful of His provision (Romans 3).
Peter never forgot this foretaste of the eternal Kingdom. This was the event that helped galvanize him, the main thing he held on to, his security when he was suffering. Suffering precedes glory. Peter's impulsiveness eventually subdued into passion for the cross. He realized there is a cost for glory, and that cost is in suffering (1 Pet. 1:6-8, 11; 4:12-16; 5:1-10; 2 Pet. 1:12-18)!
From a mount of jubilation to a valley of humiliation is "where we live."
After seeing God's glory, the Disciples had to learn trust and reliance. Jesus brought the Disciples from their incredible emotional mountain top experience directly into the valley of daily life where they were met with opposition and failure. The valley was filled with unbelief, Jesus' coming suffering, and taxes. The Disciples put into practice what they saw and learned, and quickly hit a wall of opposition. They saw that taking both what they had learned and their experiences, then applying all of it takes more than merely an attitude of, "Just do it" (Matt. 17:14-26).
God's revelation was given through the Son, for His glory. But, the cost for that glory was the cross to come! The three Disciples, having seen the Transfiguration, were able to move ahead in their faith and understanding. Even after Peter's setback of denying Christ (something he could never fathom doing at this point), he was restored and this Transfiguration became his banner of faith. All the remaining Disciples, except Judas, were able to know Him and make Him known for countless generations. God reveals His Kingdom and Glory to you in many ways--through His Word, through your prayer and devotional life, and through your faith and obedience. Has He revealed it to you? If not, are you really looking? What do you need to do to receive it (Gal. 6:14)?
Our Response to God is how we lead.
This is how we must live. Why? The Gospel is the transforming and the convicting power of God. It transforms fallen social relationships by virtue of the dynamics of love, which is the fulfillment of the law! What Christ has done must affect our lives and attitudes and the people around us. Christianity is an offering to others in gratitude, by what Christ has done. Pleasing ourselves is not the goal of the Christian life as so many pursue. We are to follow Christ and be imitators of His character, so it transforms our character. We are doing this through love and acceptance of others as Christ did with us even though we deserve nothing.
The Gospel of Christ is also the transformation of our life, thinking and social relationships.
We may think that God plays favorites, as some people just seem blessed while others are under constant struggle. However, we can take comfort that God does not play favorites; we all are His favorites! Blessings of the world are never a sign of God's favor; they will fade. The faith we exercise will only build, and we will come to see more bountiful blessings than we could ever have imagined. God is more concerned about what we do than with what we have than what we actually have! Always remember that Christ is our living Hope that will never fade away. Because He paid for us, we owe Him more than we could ever know!
No matter what we face and what we go through, we have a reason and a purpose. Tragedies and jubilations can mold and shape us, but that shape is only good when it is in His image and plan. No matter how powerful or ominous our foes seem or are, they will be judged; they will fall!
Peter wanted the glory without the suffering. Do we?
We can have all the glory without the suffering, too. We can have the fruit without the planting or cultivating of the tree; we can have the vacation without the work; but, it is not from God (Matt. 4:8-10). In fact, in the world, it is considered theft to have something without working or paying for it, unless it is a gift. Fruit without work is what Satan offers us. But, the cost is too high; the cost is a meaningless existence with a damned future. So, all we would end up with would be suffering with no purpose and no glory! Take heed; God reveals His Kingdom and Glory to you. The cost may seem high, but it was only high for Him. For us, it is dirt cheap, no matter what we have to go though. When we remain obedient, faithful, and take seriously our call to be disciples and make disciples, He will show us. Just think of His blessings and the joy of being in Him.
Most of the things that hold us back from growing in Christ are not just sin; rather, it is when we refuse to recognize His divine power. We are ignorant of what He can do, and we are afraid when we know we should follow (James 1:2-8).
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/