When a young man or woman goes to Bible school to become a leader, what is usually addressed? Competencies! Perhaps some token...
Union with Christ is the Source of All True LeadershipMalcolm Webber
Christianity is the restoration of man to fellowship and union with His God. Out of this inward union, the Christian life grows. Out of this partaking of the life of Christ Himself, is generated that same life within the believer:
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live by the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live by me. (John 6:53, 56-57)
In our own strength and ability we cannot reproduce His life and image in our lives – but He can! Man, in himself, is not able to live a life that is holy, righteous and faithful, and therefore pleasing to God; but the Christian life comes easily and naturally to the life of Christ. “There is none good but One, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18) When His life abides within, godly outward actions will follow.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)
…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2)
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. (Rom. 8:10)
… but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Rom. 8:13b-14)
Holy works are simply the outward expressions of the Presence and life within us of the Holy One. What else would a true relationship with He who is holy produce but a genuine holy life? This is not out of religious duress nor coercion, but just as the growing of fruit or flowers on the branches of a tree is the spontaneous and natural outgrowth of the life within the root of the tree, so all true outward works of holiness will spring spontaneously and naturally from the seed of inward fellowship with holy Divine life.
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)
If there is sin in our lives it is not because “we are not trying hard enough”. The Apostle John says it is because we have not seen and known God; it is because we are not abiding in Him. That is our solution – union and communion with Him. He is our solution.
True holiness and righteousness are the fruit of union and communion with God, and they cannot be produced apart from that. We repeat, true holiness and righteousness cannot be produced apart from a changed heart, which in turn cannot be produced apart from encounter and fellowship with God. The efforts of those who try to force holiness from a heart that has never truly met Jesus are destined to failure (see Matt. 15:18 & John 3:6).
True holiness and righteousness are “organic”. They are not a mask that can be put on and off, but a skin that grows from the life and substance within and cannot easily be removed.
We will never be able to achieve holiness in our lives without first entering into a personal fellowship of love with the Holy One. To even attempt it is as futile as trying to put a piece of new cloth on an old garment or new wine into old wineskins.
Furthermore, the exercise is as unpleasing to God as it would be to a husband for his wife to have the task of dutifully serving him without first ever falling in love with him, and without first ever coming to intimately know him. Her service is forced and driven, and she resents every minute of it. But she has committed herself to marriage and knows it is for life, and so she must go round and round upon the treadmill of her wifely duties; all along complaining and murmuring, consumed with the bitterness of her plight. It would be even worse if she secretly desired her own career – her labor for her husband being not at all her desire but merely something she has been taught she must do.
Service without submission and love is bondage, and it is not gratifying to the slave nor to the master. That is not the Christian life! God accepts no slaves but slaves of love. He neither needs nor wants the obedience of men whose only motive is guilty religious compulsion. He desires first our love and our fellowship, and then true obedience and holiness in our lives will naturally follow.
Our service to God must not be performed “grudgingly, or of necessity”. Only the “willing heart” is a “perfect heart” before the Lord (2 Cor. 9:7; 1 Chron. 29:9; cf. Ps. 78:7-8). And it is only the heart that has beheld Jesus in His glory and in the “beauty of His holiness”, that will be willing to obey Him, and that will desire His life and His holiness and His virtues. And only when we desire His perfections will we empty ourselves for His perfect life to come and dwell within us, so “the beauty of the Lord our God (may) be upon us” (Ps. 90:16-17; 149:4b; John 17:22).
So we see that encounter with God is the womb of desire for Him, which in turn must precede all service for Him. The service that results from this will not be that originating from a self-serving need for dead religious works, but it will be born of a lively fellowship with God in His perfections.
It is only as we “with unveiled faces behold … the glory of the Lord (that we) are transformed into the same image from glory to glory … by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. 1 John 3:2, 6). He is our path to holiness. Fellowship with Him is the fountain-head of all our Christian qualities. Beholding Him is the source of all our Christian character and of all true leadership