Friday, February 15, 2008

Portraits of Jesus: Alpha & Omega in leading His church

After the intense introduction of Revelation 1, Jesus speaks a word to seven churches in Asia Minor, Western Turkey in today’s world in Revelation 2-3. (You can read it on your own. There are seven weeks. It makes a great week of personal devotions.) But Jesus speaks to each church in a way that indicates he knows each of them intimately, He gives them a message, and then makes an appeal for them to listen. Jesus knows each church individually, but the letters are to all churches (notice “this is what the Spirit says to the churches” at the end of each passage); ours, too. Here’s an example.

"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty-- yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. Revelation 2:8-11 (Ruins of Smyrna pictured above.)
Today, and 2000 years ago, Jesus calls us to love, faithfulness in suffering, truth, holiness, sincerity (a lack of hypocrisy), mission, and wholeheartedness toward God. (Again, check out John Stott – this time it’s What Christ Thinks of the Church).

As we look at the greatness and eternality of Jesus, we need to remember something, the most important thing: this is His church. Jesus is the head of the church and He will lead it where He feels it needs to go. You may have a great elder board or a fantastic senior pastor and other leadership teams, which is the privilege I have at our church here in Cypress. But as good as it may get on a leadership level, this is not the leaders’ church. It isn’t the elders’ church, the trustees’ church, the pastors’ church.

We have a congregational government here. We vote on elders who lead, but it isn’t even the congregation's church – how undemocratic is that? This is Jesus’ church. He is the Head, the Lead Pastor. He is the Alpha & Omega of His church. He’s the chief. He’s the Lord. He’s the leader. He’s the head, but we are His partners in ministry, His tools, His body. Our role matters, but we belong to Him.

So what do we do with Jesus as the Head? Pray for the spiritual leadership of your church faithfully and regularly that they would listen well and clearly to the voice of Jesus and then lead with conviction – popular or not. Pray that each of us as individual would embrace our role as being part of the body where God wants us to – how He’s gifted us and where our passions fit what God is doing in the church and community.

Jesus is the Alpha & Omega, sovereign over His church and we are to submit to Him. Why do you think that is so difficult for many of us to do?

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