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(Part 107)


April 17, 2016

Today’s readings:
Acts 13:14-52
Psalm 100:1-5
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:27-30

The effective servant leader is one who is an authentic Christian, one who lives Christ and shares Christ. It is only in this way that he/she can serve the Lord according to the Lord’s intent. What does Jesus want to happen to people? “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (Jn 10:27-28a). Jesus came to save us, that we might not perish in our sin, and so make it to heaven. How would this happen? We need to meet Christ, to know Christ, and to follow Christ (to live Christ). How does this happen? We hear Jesus’ voice, or the word of God, through human instruments who proclaim the gospel of salvation in him.

So human instruments are needed. And servant leaders are needed to help form and guide all human instruments God chooses to use. Since servant leaders do the very work of God, they need to themselves have met and are living Christ, to a higher degree. They need to reflect the very mind and heart of Jesus. So the Holy Spirit looks for men after God’s own heart, who can take care of His people and accomplish His plan through His people.

As such, for His people Israel, God “raised up David as their king” (Acts 13:22a). What was his most important qualification? Brains, brawn, influence, power, experience, charm, connection, and so on? What is important for God’s chosen one to carry out His will? Simply this: “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.” (Acts 13:22b). God favored David, in spite of his great sins of adultery and murder (of which he repented), because David loved God and would do anything for God. He could be counted on by God to do His work and whatever He wished to be done. He was a true servant of God. As such, he was God’s anointed leader.

So the chosen, anointed and effective servant leader is one who truly lives Christ and shares Christ, according to God’s intent. He is a witness, shining God’s light in the darkness, and he is a zealous servant in obeying God and doing the work of worldwide evangelization. “For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47).

Now the authentic servant leader can expect to be persecuted. Those who oppose them can be jealous and abusive. “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.” (Acts 13:45). Those who oppose them may resort not only to abusive words, intended to destroy their names and reputation, but to violent action, in the process inciting others with lies in their assault. “The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” (Acts 13:50).

What should the authentic servant leader do in such circumstances? How should he react or respond? One, he should just continue to boldly share Christ and do the work of evangelization. “Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly” (Acts 13:46a).

Two, if prevented from doing his work, the servant leader should simply move on. There is much other work in other places that can be done. “So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.” (Acts 13:51). The Spirit wants to touch everyone, but does not force the gift of salvation on them. If the one you are evangelizing resists or rebuffs you, just move on (but await another later opportunity). “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46b). How truly unfortunate for those who refuse to meet and know Christ. The salvation Jesus won on the cross for them is for naught.

Three, in the midst of persecution, hardships, disappointments and pain, the authentic servant leader is to be joyful. “The disciples were filled with joy and the holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52). Why? Because of the great privilege of serving the Lord, doing the divine work of God, and suffering, albeit in a much smaller way, as Jesus the Master.

What happens when an authentic servant leader simply obeys Jesus and does what he is supposed to do, in any and all circumstances?

First, he unleashes the power of the word of God, as the good news of salvation in Jesus is preached. Remember that in the process of evangelization, we must preach (or proclaim) so that others will hear and then believe. If we preach and others hear, then the grace of God and the action of the Holy Spirit kick in, touching minds and hearts. “The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord.” (Acts 13:48a). The word of God, both oral and written (the Bible), is truly delightful and life-giving.

Second, proclamation of the gospel leads to hearing, which leads to belief in Jesus, which leads to calling upon the name of the Lord, which leads to salvation (see Romans 10:13-14). If only there are those who share Christ, then those whom God intends to be saved will be saved, as they hear the proclamation of the gospel and accept Jesus in their lives. “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe” (Acts 13:48b).

Third, those others who meet and live Christ should also eventually share Christ. Servant leaders help form, guide, encourage and support them. Then the reach of evangelization will grow in ever-widening circles, as more and more workers help in bringing in the harvest. Then there will be rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization. This was God’s intent then as it is now, “and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.” (Acts 13:49).

A final word. The work of evangelization is all about the mercy of God. Jesus went to the cross and paid the price for our sins so that we might be restored to the Father and live with Him eternally in heaven. God wants this salvation for all. “His mercy endures forever, his faithfulness lasts through every generation.” (Ps 100:5b). In this, the authentic servant leader is crucially important.

The authentic servant leader rejoices even in persecution. He offers himself to “serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song.” (Ps 100:2). Because he does so, then many others come to the Lord, restored as the people of God. “Know that the Lord is God, he made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the flock he shepherds.” (Ps 100:3). And they share in the joy of salvation. “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands” (Ps 100:1). And they enter the Church, His body on earth, until they finally enter His kingdom in heaven. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise.” (Ps 100:4a).

The authentic servant leader is a missionary of mercy. He/she is God’s mercynary.

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