Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What Makes Church? 4 - Leadership and Authority...continued

I believe that Matthew 18 is key to understanding what the church and leadership in it is all about. It is very significant that this discourse begins with the following:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me..."
First, we must understand that the concept of "church" didn't exist in the understanding of Yeshua's disciples. While the word appears in some English translations later in chapter 18, quoted in yesterday's blog entry, the word should be understood as "congregation", or "minyan", a concept understood in Judaism.

Judaism also understood the concept of "kingdom of God", or "kingdom of heaven" (which are synonymous terms), used in the above passage. They might not have understood exactly what Yeshua meant by it. What Yeshua meant, includes what the Pauline epistles later refer to as "church". I realise that this is something that could take up more space in explaining than I intend to do here. Instead, I'll refer you to Scot McKnight's recent blogs on the subject. I'll just say here that too often, we've separated the concepts of Kingdom and Church.

What Yeshua is referring to here isn't just the way things will be in the sweet bye 'n bye. To be sure, our life in heaven will reflect this, but what we need to grasp is that what Yeshua is saying is, leaders in the church are to be those who are the most humble, and accessible -- like children. Later in the chapter, we see, in the parable of the lost sheep, what Yeshua expects in leaders in the way of compassion, and priorities. All of this is something we, who think we're leadership material, ought to be considering very seriously.

Again, you'll find all of this discussed in more detail in chapter 12 of my online book, Culture Shock.

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