Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

June 2006
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Living By Jesus’ Indwelling Life

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

In our last Letter, we saw that Jesus’ continuous inward fellowship with His Father was the source of everything in His life and ministry.

In this relationship between Jesus and His Father, there is a parallel to what our own relationship with God can be.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:56-57)

Here Jesus makes a statement about the relationship He had with His Father while He was upon the earth; and He draws a parallel between that relationship with His Father and our relationship with Him. In these verses, Jesus said that He lived by the life of His Father, and that we are to live by His life in the same way that He lived by His Father.

Jesus didn’t just tell us to live the Christian life – or to be Christian leaders – and then leave it up to us to define what that meant and to figure out how to do it. But Jesus showed us what the Christian life and what Christian leadership look like – in His own life. He showed us and told us how to do it: we are to live by His life in the same way that He lived by His Father’s life.

Just as Jesus lived His life by the life of His Father in Him, so we are to live our Christian lives, by the life of Jesus in us.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so (i.e. even so, or in the same manner) the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

Just as Jesus lived in continuous fellowship with His Father, so we are to live in constant fellowship with Him by His Spirit.

Jesus’ leadership entirely came from His union with His Father, and He sent us to lead the same way (John 20:21).

Jesus gave us a wonderful promise of abiding fellowship with God:

… He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:21-23)

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

We experience this wonderful fellowship with God by His Spirit:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:13-15)

Jesus looked at the Father and listened to His voice and thus perfectly revealed Him to the world. The Holy Spirit now looks at the Son and listens to Him and thus reveals the Son of God to us.

Furthermore, as this Divine fellowship was the source of Jesus’ words and works – indeed of His entire life, ministry and leadership – so our experience of Divine fellowship will be the source of all true Christian character, fruit and leadership in our lives.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18, NKJV)

As a result, just as Jesus, through living by His Father’s life, revealed His Father to the world, so we, through living by means of Jesus’ indwelling life, will express His life and being to the world. As Paul testified:

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Cor. 4:10-12)

This is the simple nature of the Christian life: union with Jesus, and living by means of His indwelling life.

Thus, this is the source of Christian leadership: fellowship with Jesus Christ by His indwelling Spirit. It is divine fellowship that enables us to live and lead according to divine life.

…If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5).

Fellowship is the connection. It is through inward fellowship with God that we partake of His nature (2 Cor. 3:18). It is through His fellowship that He imparts His works, His gifts, His fruits, His endurance, His leadership and Himself to us. It is by His fellowship that He reveals Himself through us. It is by fellowship with God that we live the Christian life and lead as Christian leaders.

It was Jesus’ fellowship with His Father, in itself, that enabled Him to live and lead by His Father’s life. So it is our fellowship with the Father and the Son, in itself, that will be the source of our life and leadership.

In fellowship with God is life, and is the whole of the Christian life. Jesus said we are to “eat” of Him, to partake of Him, and thus to live by Him. We are to dwell in Him and He in us. We are called to fellowship with Him, to behold Him, to enter into this great eternal activity of the Godhead: this Divine fellowship.

What a privilege! What a calling! And this is the Christian life!

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

This is Christian leadership. It is in personal fellowship with Him. It is in His presence. It is in Jesus Christ.

In our next Letter, we will continue to explore the reality of inward union with Christ as the Source of all true Christian leadership.

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