First and foremost, being a Christian is about following. We are followers of Christ. That means we learn how Christ lived his life and fashion ours after him.
People often identify Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do we realize the distinctiveness of each of those titles? Throw me a life raft and I’ll affirm you saved me. You may even become my hero. Chances are, though, I won’t try to shape my entire life as an imitation of yours.
But that’s part of what it means to call Jesus “Lord.” It’s easier to affirm the savior part of who Jesus is to us. Now, we’re saved for heaven. It’s that Lord part that trips us up every day. If Christ is our Lord, then we must follow.
And as we follow Christ, we also lead others.
Maybe you’re a church leader. That can be in an official capacity or not. Has your church ever voted on you to be a leader? Does your church have people who don’t need the titles? I’ve known saints who never served on a committee who were the ones people looked to for wisdom and insight. (To me, that’s a great reminder to not get so caught up in leadership models.)
My point is, we all lead in some manner.
Now, let’s look at a seemingly harsh encounter between Jesus and his disciples in Matthew 17. Jesus took three disciples up the mountain to experience the Transfiguration. When they descended, a crowd awaited them. A man, a father knelt before Jesus. He wanted our Lord to heal his son. As it turns out, the father had asked the disciples to do it before. They were unable.
The first response of Jesus to this news is, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you?”
Can you imagine being a disciple at that moment? Why was Jesus so harsh to them? Part of the answer could be in additional reading.
In Matthew, there are several times Jesus references this childish, adulterous, evil and perverse generation. That makes sense when you consider part of Matthew’s overall backdrop. Matthew picks up the stance Jesus took against the religious establishment. They, after all, are the ones leading this generation. This speaks to the many confrontations Jesus has with the Pharisees, for example.
So, it could be, in this encounter, that Jesus rebuked the religious leaders and not his disciples. Or, if he was speaking to his followers, he may have been hinting to them to not follow the way of the religious leaders.
Their way is not a way of faith. It is about control and power. Their leadership doesn’t follow anything faithfully, only that which brings benefit to themselves.
As you and I lead, in whatever capacity, how will we do so? Leading with faith means you follow the guidance and wisdom of the Spirit. You also submit to the lordship of Jesus.
Think of all the generations mentioned in Matthew 1, the genealogy of Jesus. Now consider what we know about the salvation and lordship of Jesus. If you or your church leaders lead in any way that quells either of those two characteristics of Jesus to anyone, you become a replica of the generation Jesus addressed.