Thursday, October 8, 2009

Four marks of spiritual leaders - 3

“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 and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord . . . .” 2 Chronicles 15:8

Christian leaders take courage from the gospel not only to put away the detestable idols but also to "repair the altar of the Lord." The gospel deconstructs our idols and lifts our vision of Christ in practical ways.

Renewal is what the verb means: "to make anew, restore," according to Koehler-Baumgartner. Every church needs it. Inevitably, things get tired, even sloppy. It's just hard for us to keep caring at a high level. That's why the prophet exhorted Asa in verse 7, "Do not let your hands be weak," or literally, "sink down." Falling standards -- it's how we all trend. In our own homes and hobbies, of course, we may think, "Hey, nothing but the best for me!" But when it comes to the work of the Lord, we can settle for yard-sale-mediocrity. It dishonors him. But then, in grace, he re-activates the gospel in our hearts and re-energizes us to lift him high in every way. Spiritual leaders are the first to pray for, watch for and reach for his renewing mercies.

Asa's reforms led his people to renew their covenant with the Lord "with all their heart and with all their soul" (verse 12). And they rejoiced that their hearts and their habits had returned to the Lord "with their whole desire" (verse 15). We all understand that. When we throw off our lethargy and rededicate ourselves to the Lord with wholehearted passion, it thrills us.

Spiritual leaders do not accept the negativity that resists ongoing renewal. They see too much glory in Christ. Their vision of him finds diplomatic ways (hopefully) of gently insisting that, for his sake, their church will serve him with high standards. And where altars need to be repaired, they do it.