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Follow the Leader? – Why?

Because America’s Christians have neglected the culture, there is much ungodliness in the world today. Critics have laid the blame for this at the feet of poor Christian leaders and it is true that we have many poor leaders, some very poor; but the solution is not good leaders; it is no leaders! Now this may sound foolish but leadership, even with the best of leaders is not the answer. Christians must see that their leader is Christ and that they need to accept the responsibility associated with making Him their only leader. They need teachers but not leaders; they especially need teachers that explain and emphasize this one-to-one relationship between the believer and Christ. Christians need to see themselves as Christ’s emissaries chartered to do His work in this world. They are the Body of which Christ is the only head. The Apostle Paul, writing to the ecclesias in Corinth, said:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)

The primary thrust of this verse and its context is God’s law for the family but it also says much more. It gives us the God-established order for all of society. Christ is under God and the family head is under Christ. Just as there are no rulers between Christ and God, so also there are no rulers between the family head and Christ. In God’s order, the kingdom of God, any intermediaries (e.g. elders) are there, not as rulers but as representatives of the families that elected them.[i]

Something happens when leaders are interposed between the believer and the Lord. The presence of a leader takes the pressure off the believer and he tends to leave God’s work to his pastor or to whomever he sees as his leader. He doesn’t feel anything even approaching the personal responsibility he would feel as an individual directly responsible to Christ. His motivation to make the necessary time and monetary sacrifices needed to prepare himself and then to get personally involved in really doing God’s work, simply vanishes away.

Christians should view all other Christians, regardless of their prominence, as fellow workers. They should hale their accomplishments and be encouraged by them to do more themselves. Instead, all too often they relax and leave the work to the public figures. They fail to see that their work is the vital element and without it the public figure can really do little if anything. Virtually all realize that their contribution is so small that its loss can’t be of any real significance. In this, they are correct, one voice in a million is not audible; so where is the answer? How can the efforts of the many insignificant workers be enlisted so as to have the whole become an effective force?

The army needs a general that the soldiers obey. That General is Christ but He doesn’t tell us to go and join this or that group to accomplish some grand purpose. He tells us to uphold and defend His standard of justice in everything we do. This is something within the grasp of the individual, something he can accomplish on his own. He can shirk this task also but he can’t rationalize that his contribution is so small as to be insignificant; for this task, his contribution is all there is and he has no excuse for failure.

How then is God’s work to be done and the Great Commission to be fulfilled? The only way is God’s way, which is through the efforts of individual, dedicated Christians acting on their own initiative in obedience to Christ. The great causes, ending the evils of abortion, government schools, homosexual marriage, etc.—all demonstrated failures—should be abandoned. Christians need to forget about the huge national or world-wide problems (which they know in their hearts they can do almost nothing to influence) and focus on their personal responsibility to the Lord. They should disassociate themselves from the great causes and make “the kingdom of God and His righteousness” a real priority in their lives (Matt. 6:33). Each believer needs to see that in any and every situation, he is first of all, the representative of the King of kings who expects him to defend His crown rights against all opposition. In a world that hates Him, this can be difficult and often results in painful recriminations but the true believer will persevere and in the end be blessed.

As more and more Christians see that this is their role and their responsibility, the aggregate effect will become visible and the nation will change. The cumulative cultural impact of the entire body of Christ, acting as individuals standing up for their heavenly Head, would be enormous. Even a relatively small minority of such individuals working entirely independently of one another could, in short order, result in the correction of many of today’s major godless practices.

Lou Poumakis

[i] Where we see the word “obey” used with reference to Christians and their elders or pastors, as in Hebrews 13:17, it is a mistranslation of the original which means “be persuaded” (see here). Christians are called to be students and doers of God’s word not followers of men (Acts 17:11; James 1:22).