Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

September 2013
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The Christian Life and Leadership Are in Jesus!

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

The Christian Life and Leadership Are in Jesus!

The Christian life is in Jesus. The Christian life is Jesus Christ. It is a living union and communion with Him. It is a daily experience of inward fellowship with Him, out of which everything else flows.

Unfortunately, the church today is filled with goals that fall far below this great purpose. But if we will set our face toward the single pursuit of the personal knowledge of Jesus, we will discover that it is an all-embracing pursuit.

Our pre-eminent call is to God. He is the highest and the all-encompassing call to the Christian. He is our salvation. He is our life (Col. 3:4). To know Him is our goal, our ultimate purpose. And when we have Him, we have all He is. When we have Him, we have everything. Eternal salvation, healing, deliverance, eternal security, peace, joy, holiness, righteousness, faith, the fruits of the Spirit, leadership, vision, ministry fruitfulness, spiritual strength and power – all are in Him. Do not seek for anything outside of Him. In Him we are complete, and can do all things – and without Him we are empty, and can do nothing.

Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5; cf. Col. 2:10; Phil. 4:13)

Let us come to know Him first and the rest will follow. And without coming to know Him first our lives will not bear the genuine fruit of the Spirit, but instead we will produce only counterfeit religious-looking works of the flesh. Furthermore our lives will be satisfying to neither ourselves nor God.

To illustrate, let us consider for a moment some of the objectives that are held high in Christian circles.

Take holiness and obedience, for example. True holiness and righteousness, and the service of obedience to God can only be produced subsequent to a personal restoration to God and experience of fellowship with Him.

Everyone knows that a Christian is to be holy and righteous. For many, holiness is the pre-eminent purpose of the Christian life. But what is holiness? Does holiness consist solely in external works? What about the unsaved ones in the community who live outwardly clean, upright, moral lives – are they “holy”? Is a life pleasing to God simply because outwardly it conforms to a list of religious “do’s and don’ts”?

Anyone who has read the Sermon on the Mount knows that there is more to holiness than mere outward works, and that true holiness must begin with the attitudes and motivations of the heart. Furthermore, Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter twenty-three to the scribes and Pharisees, offer the sternest rebukes to those who, ignoring the true state of their heart, think themselves to be holy and righteous on the basis of outward works alone. Obviously, therefore, in our search for true holiness and righteousness, the first place we should look must not be outward works, but the heart.

So the question becomes not so much one of outward actions, but rather: has the heart been changed from that of fallen Adam? Has the spirit of man participated in the life of God? Is holiness now the desire and the love of the heart? The only testimony that pleases God is: “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8; cf. 73:1; 111:2; 112:1; 119:47). This is true holiness and righteousness: that which springs spontaneously from a changed heart. There is not the duty of holiness for this heart, but the joy. Righteousness is not a constraint but a pleasure. Serving God is not a hardship but a privilege. This heart’s attitude toward the will of God is not “I must”, but “I want to”, and it is found only in those who have been truly restored to God, whose religion is not for the purpose of pleasing men but pleasing and enjoying God.

The key to true holiness is to experience and to know God. The key to Divinely-pleasing righteousness and obedience is union with Divine life. When our hearts possess the life and power of the Spirit we will overcome the flesh. Our only source of spiritual victory is the true inward knowledge of Jesus. Our only source of genuine power is the abiding influence and Presence of God. As William Law wrote, “nothing godly can be alive in us but what has all its life from the Spirit of God living and breathing in us.” Or, to put it in the words of Jesus: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me” (John 15:4; cf. Ps. 92:13-14).

Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. It is the reality of the inward working of God in a Christian’s heart that will give him the direction, motivation and strength necessary for his Christian life. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is as a seed hidden in the ground. The organic life within the seed is the power that causes the growth of the tree. Or again, the Kingdom of God is as a small portion of leaven hidden in a lump, which though small eventually saturates the whole. The potency of the inward life of the Holy Spirit within the born again heart is what permeates and transforms the Christian’s whole life (1 John 5:4; Matt. 13:31-33). This is what transforms leadership!

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