I want to follow a living example of Christ. Our Christian culture has always been fascinated with the charisma, the preaching, and the gifts of its leadership. Truly, we have placed our values on the wrong things. For years I too was mesmerized by the preachers and teachers of my day only to be let down when I heard of their sin and subsequent falls. As I have grown in the Lord, I no longer get too excited by what people say; now I watch how they live and how they handle adversity in their life.
I thought it would be great to speak with one these giants of the faith to collect from them the extract of their faith and wisdom. After praying, I chose a seasoned veteran in Lord who wishes to remain anonymous. For the purpose of this article we will just call him “Brother Jack.” I know that his testimony will be a blessing to you and I pray you will read on with patience and insight.
Me: Brother Jack, why do you not use titles to describe yourself? You certainly have all the proper schooling and your gifts are recognized by many.
Jack: Jose, I don’t believe in self-promotion, and I don’t expect respect from where I have not sown. The Church and its leaders are in love with their titles, but it wasn’t like this with the early church. I believe the five-fold gifts are functions to equip the Body of Christ, not positions to create a clergy class of elite individuals. Those that relate with me know my gifts and capacities, and I’m content with that.
Me: Along those lines, what do you see the Lord doing with leadership in His Body in the 21st century?
Jack: I believe the Church that the Lord Jesus Christ is building is waking up to value-mature attributes such as a no-agenda love, transparency, humility, vulnerability, and brokenness. The days of celebrity status for leaders are dwindling as Christians like yourself mature and can see through the hype. To trust in the “one man at the top” religious system is guaranteed disillusionment, even if he claims to be a Bishop or an Apostle. I know of no real leader who hasn’t been on the Lord’s pottery wheel for at least 5 years. Many of these men are 55-75 years old, and their whole ministry paradigm has been turned upside down. I look for more of the same to continue as their lives produce the very fragrance of Christ.
Me: Jack if you don’t mind me asking, how do you pay your bills? How do you live?
Jack: Jose I will answer the second part of your question first. I live well! I am at peace with the Lord’s provision for me. I live by faith, and I trust that he will take care of me. The Lord has not failed me in all these years. Yes, there are times of hardship, but there are also times of plenty. I don’t participate in the worldly systems of credit cards and debt. I also don’t live bound by the consumerism of this age. I go where and when the Lord provides. I don’t presume upon the Lord so I can brag about how busy I am in the Lord’s work. I also know I am passing through this world as a pilgrim, so I don’t fall in love with things down here. Therein lies the problem with finances in our American Christianity. If all checks and support were removed from the current religious system, you would see a greater exodus of “so-called” leaders than the one from Egypt.
Me: What do you see as the greatest hindrance to the growth of His Church in the 21st Century?
Jack: When you say growth, what do you mean? Are you talking like the Church of today, about numbers, large buildings, and big budgets? If you are, forget about it! The Lord is deconstructing our toothpick castles and mini kingdoms to reveal himself as King of the one and only true Kingdom. Simply put, they are coming down! First, it will happen in the hearts of His people, and then that will manifest in the physical realm. Already the religious system is feeling the pressure as the Lord heats up the economic situation in America. Also, real born-again believers are seeing the misuse of the Lord’s funds and are beginning to question all those weekly collections. So Jose, the greatest hindrance is the values that have been taught to us by the religious system. The religious system has created a way to maintain itself, and then they have taught us to believe in it and fund it. All this “religious business” is fueled by pride and greed which has no place in His Kingdom. The church has achieved what it has valued, and today it has little or no influence on the culture. I strongly believe that every deviation from God’s plan for the Church is rooted in the love of money. Where there is no love or insufficient love, money must be added to replace Godly passion, legitimate calling, authentic caring, and a real burden.
Me: Wow that is definitely a hard word for the modern Church. So how will we know what to value?
Jack: The Bible clearly tells leaders to be an example. It calls for the church to watch their faith and imitate it. The problem today is most Christians cannot get close enough to their pastor or priest to see how they really live. The modern church thinks discipleship is a class but the early church knew it meant walking alongside a mature brother to learn from him like a father-son or elder brother-younger brother relationship in a family. The church secretary will tell you he is a busy man, but who said the Lord made him the only man or the main man? The early church worked in teams, and I don’t mean a pastor and the staff he signs checks for. Today the church at best is 20% participants and 80% observers. It wasn’t like this in the early church. They all knew they were ministers, and they expected no salary to do the work of the Lord. We must again value the things Christ values. For most shallow Christians, the response is, “It does not compute”. Today I seek to value what the Lord values: faithfulness to their calling, time of Godly service, diligence in the daily grind (small things), the value of their word, and how they live when they think nobody is looking.
Me: This perhaps is my toughest question. With all the divisions in the Body of Christ, how do you know what is the right doctrine and methodology to follow?
Jack: I am glad you asked that Jose. Here is a short test that I use. We all have the Holy Spirit, so we can know the Truth if we want to know. God’s ways work for you. They always lead you into a closer walk with God. God’s truth changes you into His likeness. Notice I haven’t mentioned the Bible because for 1500 first years of the Church, the common man had no real personal access to Scripture. God is love, and love is the final test in all questions of doctrine not congruency to the Greek text. The early church heard God and knew the ways of His Spirit, unlike most Christians today. The modern Church idea of the Word of God is that sermon that is preached once or twice a week. When you are going every Sunday to Church and you are living a poor or inconsistent Christian life, it isn’t rocket science that you are not in the Truth. Man-made religion and rituals comprise about 90% of what is done in and by the church today. Is it any wonder why the world has overcome the church instead of the Church overcoming the world? The Lord Jesus Christ is jealous for His Bride and even now is executing His plan to get her back from the control of modern Christianity and the seduction of this world.
Me: Jack please explain this control and seduction. How can I put my fingers on exactly how it works?
Jack: Communion with Christ is more than a weekly ritual or observance. Real Christianity is a 24/7 relationship with Christ via the Holy Spirit. Today the modern church has replaced Christ with so – called Christian stuff. Christians spend hours in meetings, services, and events and not an ounce of it leads them closer to God. We would rather sing, pray, read the bible, anything but hang through a difficult relationship to represent the nature of Christ to someone out of love for them. We are busy doing instead of being, so in essence we have deceived ourselves as to our true condition. Like I said before, our values are no longer His values. Where there is a vacuum of true spiritually, the world and its fleshly desires will fill it. So if you want to put your finger on it as you say, Jose, ask yourself this question, how is your present relationship with Christ working for you? You can lie to man, but you can’t lie to God.
Me: I feel like we need to stop and pray after that last response.
Jack: That is what I mean when I speak about a “Rhema” or hearing God.
We entered into a time of prayer for ourselves and His Church.
Me: Final Question here, Jack, how have you been able to handle adversity in your life? I know you have lost relatives, income, ministry friends, and relationships as a result of what you preach. How do you deal with the loneliness, the doubts, and the apparent failure of His promises for you?
Jack: Now that, Jose, is really your toughest question. First, let me share some of what I have learned as I traveled through some of life’s “dark night of the soul”. I am not my own. I have been bought with a price. Failure is not in my vocabulary, neither is tragedy. There are just times when the potter is sharpening/shaping/fashioning something in me (His clay) which I don’t see YET! Someday I will understand. Someday I will know how I have been known. I do not try to bring The God who flung the stars (Galaxies) into the sky into my peanut brain by asking all the “why” questions. It is the Creator’s job to create, and it is the creation’s job to trust in the work of His hands, and that whatever He is doing is for my good. I don’t live to impress others; I live to please God, so I don’t worry about the apparent mess in the carpentry shop. I also know and am convinced that I am a pilgrim and traveler through this world. Recently, I have come into a healthy longing for Heaven, the place I was created for. I am a son built for an eternity. The more I look up, the more detached I become from down here. I have cried many tears ,and I am sure I have many more to cry. I am not Superman! I am just HIS man.
More about Jack, a living example of Christ.
I really pray we all find a Jack in our life. It is the true way of discipleship of the early church. Watching a mature living example of Christ experience life is worth a million sermons and a thousand readings of the Bible.
If you have read this far, I am sure you want to meet Jack. Jack is the Holy Spirit speaking through your servant. The Lord gave me this idea to share what He has taught me so there wouldn’t be the usual rejection or turn off. At the risk of being misunderstood as someone who thinks he has arrived, I obeyed. This was not intent to deceive, but an adjustment of the delivery method so you could hear Christ. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit spoke to you, and that you will search for a Jack in your life.
I want to thank God for all the Jacks I have had in my life and for the ones I have now. God has connected me to some wonderful peers. How close are we? Close enough to take a bullet for each other and to love each other without an agenda or hope of return.
I want to thank God for Don Atkin, a true Jack in my life. No one else has modeled love, mercy, and the nature of Christ in my life like he has. He has also modeled trust in my life by allowing me the freedom to think differently than him on some subjects. It takes Christ to do that!
I also want to thank every enemy, every naysayer, everyone who has spoken against me in my life. You have been a tool in the Potter’s hand to produce Christ in me. I thank God for that.
Much love, because love never fails!
Jose Bosque, (edited by Lisette Bosque)
Another article by the author on the same subject Healthy Fathering Gods Original Design for Making Disciples
Jose Bosque is Editor in Chief and founder of Viral Cast Media which oversees GodsLeader, JaxChristian now ViralChrist and 15 other websites. He has ministered in Jacksonville since 1987 and served the city since 1992 as a citywide servant leader. Jose is considered a resource and a spiritual father to many leaders in the city and in the 54 nations where the Lord has sent him to serve. Originally born in Cuba, Jose has resided in Jacksonville since 1966.
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