Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Four marks of spiritual leaders - 2

“As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin . . . .” 2 Chronicles 15:8

Christian leaders put away the detestable idols from their lives and their churches. It is not enough to add Jesus. We must also subtract our idols. As time goes by, so much accumulates and complicates. We cannot go on adding and adding. We must boldly subtract. This is repentance and reformation.

“Detestable idols” means “abhorrent, monstrous, disgusting idols.” Our hearts do not create nice idols. Oh, how we need the lovely One! How we need to see him so clearly and revere him so tenderly that we get tough on ourselves and throw the idols out!

Christian leaders have a nose for the stench of idolatry, and they confront it, as Asa did. It is not leadership to ignore the smell, perfume the smell. Some churches do. They make room for their idols of tradition, idols of superiority, idols of unconfessed sin, idols of cool. But anything that distracts from Jesus stinks. It stinks to God. It reeks with our arrogance and self-pity and whatever else diminishes Jesus in our experience. Christian leaders are deeply stirred by this. They become restless. They become desperate for the greater glory of Christ, desperate enough to magnify him at all costs.

“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Moises Silva comments: “What Paul once regarded highly he now finds revolting. There is no need to downplay the meaning of skybala with such equivalents as ‘rubbish’ . . . a specific reference to excrement is not uncommon and the KJV rendering ‘dung’ is both appropriate and probable.” Paul had feasted on the dung of Self. But when Jesus became real to his heart, he took all his hard-won trophies (changing the metaphor now) out to the dumpster, threw them all in, walked away, looked back over his shoulder and laughed. He had gained Jesus.

Such clarity is rare. But whenever church leaders demand it of themselves, their church becomes happy and mighty for Christ.