Whilst I was pondering the concept of Leadership for my last post, I also found myself thinking about obedience.
We need to follow the lead of those wiser than us, but not unquestioningly. God gave us a mind for a reason. We are like sheep, yes. But we are more than a sheep. Modern sheep are not that bright. They sit in a field and eat grass and occasionally bleat at a passing collie. There’s not a lot they do.
We are called to be sheep in the 1st Century sense. Listen for the voice of our shepherd – Jesus, not the pastor – and follow Him.
Sometimes the pastor forgets he’s a sheep too.
So do we.
We get so tuned in to listening to our own voice that we lose track of the quiet guidance of the Holy Spirit within us. We forge ahead and stop listening for the voice saying “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”” (Isaiah 30:21). As a result we miss the path. We head off on a tangent and miss most of what God has for us.
We follow blindly as a leader who has got hold of a single truth such as healing marches on, and we leave the rest of what God has for us sitting behind. We focus blindly on social justice and miss Salvation. We become obsessed with filling pews and forget to make disciples – and to remember discipleship is often an uncomfortable experience.
More and more we want to produce a watered-down version of the Gospel which eliminates suffering and persecution and turns Jesus into a teddy-bear instead of the Lion of Judah. As CS Lewis described Aslan, the Christ-figure in Narnia, He’s not a tame lion – but He’s good.
The blind adherence to a “happy” message which requires little in the way of sacrifice and struggle on any level will only lead, ultimately, away from Jesus.
We run the risk of becoming the sightless guides Jesus referred to the Pharisees as. Leading the blind and both falling into the pit, both literally and figuratively.
I may not end up as a popular teacher or writer, but I refuse to compromise what I have understood the message of the Gospel to be for over 25 years for the sake of getting a few more “likes” on facebook or followers on twitter. I’m not out to win a popularity contest, I’m fighting a war.
In the epic poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” it is obvious the soldiers knew their commander had made a mistake. They charged the cannons anyway, and the entire brigade was slaughtered because of blind obedience. Blindly following orders only results in getting killed in war. It’s no different when Jesus says He calls us friends and invites us to ask Him and seek His counsel as He does in John 14,15 & 16 to the disciples – including you and me – that we can know God’s purpose and ask Him of things to come and how to achieve them.
Not only is there no shame in asking, it’s encouraged by God!
As we come towards the end of Lent, Easter just a few days away, let’s give up blindly accepting everything we get spoon-fed from “popular” movements. Look to see where progress is ultimately moving towards. And if it isn’t the Cross, turn away.