Jesus said it. Apostle Paul said it with the caveat “…as I follow Christ.” All of us follow leaders even when we think, believe and say we don’t.
Nobody can “follow the path” without a path being there. So we -made- each and every path we walk on?
Are there false leaders, lousy and rotten leaders? Abusive leaders? Of course. We see it in The Bible as well as “secular” human history again and again. What is Israel and Judah’s Old Testament record of good kings? Sense alone brings us to the reality God sent all the prophets (those HE truly sent in any case!) to teach the people of God to return to Him.
Therefore “No leaders and no teaching for me! The only way to be safe is to wrap my own arms around myself and close my mind to the risk of hurt and pain.”?
This is the path too many take and it’s not only without logic, it can eventually bring us to self-worship and actively create a sense of the individual as God who is self-sufficient without Him or others -heaping to ourselves only those who tell us what we want to hear (which means they are as the Word says, “teachers”). In essence we convince ourselves we are the only entity we can really trust. This is faith in ourselves full stop -and it creates a tragic mess in many a sad, tragic life.
You wouldn’t be reading this if nobody taught you to read or at least put you in a place with books you had to discover.
Are you reading this? You are being taught. You can disagree with some, a large percentage or all of it, but you are still being taught by someone. You’ve never read a book, a blog, a Facebook post or watched a movie without someone other than yourself passing on information, ideas and concepts for your consideration. They are by default influencers and teachers and you are being led or not led by them. Your faith and belief -even unbelief -is a matter of learning, acceptance or rejection of lessons taught. Fact.
Neither we nor our teachers create from nothing in the sense God did and does… we you learn via other things, other people, from God Himself, but we are not the original originator -therefore we follow/ed someone and/or something which is how all and any of us learn.
If this is true in all of life, why is it some say there is no such thing as a leader or leadership in groups -including assemblies of Christians? Why would the Holy Spirit’s biblical gifts given to and for people’s spiritual growth include teaching if there were no teachers? Paul asks “Do ALL…) and lists spiritual gifts, and no, not all are teachers or leaders in terms of God’s spiritual gifting, and yet in the large and real world of which I speak what I’ve said so far seems rather obvious.
Hard reality is that we’ve all been ripped off, hurt, some deeply -via leaders, teachers who themselves were “blind guides” to borrow a phrase from Jesus. And we ourselves -each one of us- as well as anyone we follow can of course become such. I’d say the negatives of ignorance, arrogance, a lack of humility and true iron-sharpening, unsettling community and the positives of willingness to study, to learn and grow in broad community are all core to discovering, actual learning and following as Jesus taught, even commanded His disciples.
Character and attitude, behavior of those who teach and lead is MAJORLY CORE, absolutely so!
Yet those positive growth elements I’ve just listed are also foundational and often left wanting regarding followers of Jesus. They are part of making careful choices as to which humans we follow, emulate and trust in. “…as I follow Christ” is a massively important clause!
Sometimes we choose our leaders based on personal comfort, a sense of safety and to escape the turbulence of change. Sometimes we think, talk and actually believe we’re our own source and we have been influenced by nobody but God the Holy Spirit (“You have no need of man to teach you”- though John was teaching even as he wrote… so consider sound interpretation before you teach on this verse!).
God indeed teaches and speaks through writings, sermons, articles and ideas we’ve gotten via OTHER PEOPLE so we cannot simply claim “God told me” as that’s not the whole truth though it may well be part of it.
“Professing themselves to be wise they became fools” applies in a broad context to the things I’ve said thus far.
I can point to Jesus, to The Bible and to a long list of personal friends, pastors, authors, speakers, screen writers (via film) and on and on from whom I have been taught, learned, began to grasp truth and likewise error.
The same is true of you dear reader -take care to embrace the responsibility of it:
“Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” -Luke 8.18
“He went on to say, “Pay attention to what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and even more will be added to you. For whoever has will be given more. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” -Mark 4.24, 25
Rather intense and conditional statements made by Jesus, no?
Our loving Father knows our needs before we ask Him. Humility is core to following, indeed, essential, for only then do we realize we can only follow behind someone who has learned a bit more than you and I and therefore leads.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn