Agonizomai: Heb 13 - 17 - Christ - Is All in All

Monday, June 07, 2010

Heb 13 - 17 - Christ - Is All in All

Heb 13 - 17 - Christ - Is All in All

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The unwritten and subliminal implications here are to obey "providing they are preaching Christ rightly". When we follow leaders we follow them only insofar as they are manifesting Jesus Christ. That is because we are all following Him and only Him, even when we do so by submitting to other men.

Note that these leaders are charged with keeping watch over the souls of the saints. If they are not doing that because they are preaching another gospel, or a weak gospel, or are indifferent to the spiritual state of their charges - then they are not following Christ and Christ is not being manifested in them - so following Christ by harkening to them is very unlikely to happen. This doesn’t mean that we always walk away. It may mean that we endure the famine and prayerfully struggle to bring it to an end.

One thing is for sure, that those in leadership will be held to a higher standard and will be required to render an account of their stewardship. If they are truly saved men, their loss will be that of reward. But if they are not Christ’s and have wheedled their way in to mislead and deceive - if they are unsaved people - whatever their motivation or excuse, it would be better for them in that Day that they had never been born. Christ is jealous for the apple of His eye, His bride, in ways we cannot but begin to imagine. The fury of His wrath upon those who sully her will be terrible to behold.

That said, sheep are dull and stupid creatures who are constantly meandering off without thought as to the immediate dangers that surround them. And the patient, caring and sometimes monotonous and repetitive work of keeping them in the fold, or on the pasture and away from wolves and potholes can be both exhausting and frustrating. The pastor himself needs support and care from time to time, lest he lose his joy and excitement in the midst of the mire, and his vocation become drudgery instead of delight.

A pastor for whom all the joy has gone and who gives himself to complaint - especially complaint masking judgmentalism, impatience, resentment and frustration - has lost his focus. It has become about him and his hopes, desires, wants, needs, expectations - and not about serving God by caring for the sheep of His pasture, as the Lord did while on earth. Jesus suffered dullness, contradiction, slowness to learn, misunderstanding, misapplication, misappropriation of His teachings among his chosen disciples - and He did so with patience, grace and joy. All the while He never lost sight of Father and His will. All these things and much more beside, he gladly suffered for the joy that lay before Him. Talk about the eternal view! But it was an eternal view that had much earthly use.

What comes to mind for me in this situation is Blondini crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Roaring and destruction lie all around; the mists of doom waft up and make everything cold and slippery. But the tightrope walker, carrying on his back some trusting soul, keeps his eyes firmly on the goal that lies on the other side of the maelstrom. This is, in some ways what Christ did. And it is in some ways what the pastor must do. Only the pastor must look to Christ who had already crossed. Christ both stands beckoning and, in some mysterious way by the Spirit, is also right there, back on the wire, skilfully leading His under shepherd, and the sheep on his back, to safety.

So the pastor must have, and must be encouraged to keep, the eternal view. When it all ends with Christ and it is all wrought in Him then the pastor will indeed cease or refrain from groaning. Joy will lie before him and the difficulties of the pastoral life will fade in his view, even though they are ever so real and pressing. As with the sheep, it is not the absence of difficulty that benefits the pastor, but the endurance of it through faith that counts. That is where Christ is met and known. That is where His sufferings become somewhat intelligible to redeemed sinners, pastor and parishioner alike. That is where the power of what he has fully accomplished and completed becomes the carrying force, the moving power of our otherwise lifeless lives.

And for some, it will at first be by the outward evidences of faith-filled endurance - of the eternal shining into the here and now through the pastor/teacher - the radiance of the light of Christ Himself brimming over an earthen pot - that will be profitable. They may not at first recognize what they see, but they will be attracted to it. They will be attracted not to a man-made or worked up facade of carnal "happiness," but to the Christ Who knows and cares for and calls His own by name. And they will eventually see Him in what the pastor is showing forth, and they will recognize Him and give thanks and be uplifted. Then Christ will be seen to be all in all, and all will be blessed.


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