Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His Own Blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
In one sense, the Bible's Old and New Testaments are Safety Manuals. In the First, we're warned not to break away from God's Laws. In the Second, we're warned not to break away from God's Son. Often, bad breakups followed sad hookups with the wrong people.
Sometimes the right people were hard to find. Before Christ, God's children were plagued with proud priests, corrupt kings and idolatrous invaders. After Christ, new Christians were plagued with political persecution and false shepherds.*
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Starting with Jesus Himself, every New Testament writer warns us about blind leaders. In 21st century terms, I call them bling leaders: all dressed up with nowhere good to go.
Their style is feel-good, their joy is fame, their topic is favor, their business is finance and their guidance is false. Their sermons are funny, their homes are fancy, their books are frequent and their smiles are phony. They are served
leaders, instead of servant-leaders: a subtle difference in words, but a big difference in lifestyle, exampled best by Jesus.
Paul is quite thorough in listing the qualities necessary to lead a church.** Many of today's elders meet the letter of the qualifications, but do they meet God's heart? Consider two overlooked essentials:
1) 'Holding fast the faithful Word which is in accordance with the Teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound Doctrine and to refute those who contradict' (Titus 1:9). Church leaders must know
God's Word thoroughly and be bold enough to refute congregants who live or speak against It.
2) 'Reject a factious man after a first and second warning' (Titus 3:10). If our church maintains the world's politically correct attitude of 'no fault, no correction,' then we've sunk into a deadly condition called 'moral relativity' described in the Book of Judges.*** God is clear about the effects of bad yeast. A little will cause the wrong kind of rise.****
Actors, models and talent for Christ: As God's 21st century communication task force, consider Paul's 1st century priority of protection. What was sorely needed then is desperately needed now.
To Be Continued:
* Two Previous AMTC Devotions on Shepherds and Sheep: http://amtcdevotions.org/fellowship-part-25-church-pastors-his-shepherds; http://amtcdevotions.org/fellowship-part-24-church-members-his-sheep
** Qualifications for Elders: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=titus+1%3A5-16&version=NASB
** Excellent Short Article: Where Are the Elders Who Guard the Flock: http://cicministry.org/commentary/worldview0015.htm
*** Previous AMTC Devotion Series, Moral Relativity: http://amtcdevotions.org/moral-relativity-aka-whatever-part-1
**** Short blog on bad leaven: http://www.vincentsblog.ws/2013/03/03/bad-leaven-spoils-the-loaf/
**** 'Beware the leaven of the Pharisees': https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+12%3A1-2&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Paul's Powerful Priorities series.