Following Christ, the Perfect Leader
THOSE who follow human rulers often experience disappointment. However, the effect of Christ’s leadership on those who submit to it is quite different. Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28, 29) Jesus’ leadership is refreshing and uplifting. He is keenly interested in the lowly and downtrodden, inviting them to get under his kindly yoke. What, though, is involved in following Jesus’ leadership?
“Christ suffered for you,” wrote the apostle Peter, “leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Pet. 2:21) How important is it for us to follow Jesus’ footsteps? Imagine you were in a group that had to cross a minefield and only one of your number knew how to make it through safely. Would you not follow his steps closely, perhaps even stepping in his tracks? Similarly, our future security depends upon patterning our life after Jesus’ example. Doing so includes listening to and obeying him and cooperating with those who represent him.
Hear and Obey
Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated: “Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass.”—Matt. 7:24, 25.
Jesus thus referred to a man who listens to and obeys his words as “discreet.” Do we demonstrate by our heartfelt obedience that we respect and appreciate Christ’s example, or are we inclined to choose from among Jesus’ commands only those that are easy or convenient to obey? Jesus said: “I always do the things pleasing to [God].” (John 8:29) Let us strive to imitate that example.
In the first century, the apostles set a fine example of submitting to Christ’s leadership. On one occasion, Peter said to Jesus: “Look! We left all things and have been following you.” (Mark 10:28) Indeed, the apostles considered Jesus’ leadership to be of such high value that they willingly left behind other things in order to follow him.—Matt. 4:18-22.
Cooperate With Christ’s Representatives
Shortly before his death, Jesus mentioned another way in which we can follow his leadership. He said: “He that receives anyone I send receives me also.” (John 13:20) In fact, Jesus spoke of his anointed representatives as his “brothers.” (Matt. 25:40) After Jesus had been resurrected to the heavens, his “brothers” were appointed to act in his place, “substituting for Christ” as ambassadors inviting others to become reconciled to Jehovah God. (2 Cor. 5:18-20) Our recognizing Christ’s leadership involves submission to his “brothers.”
We do well to examine how we respond to timely Scriptural counsel presented in our Bible-based publications. By studying the Scriptures and attending congregation meetings, we are reminded of the sayings of Christ. (2 Pet. 3:1, 2) We show our heartfelt appreciation for this supply of spiritual food by regularly partaking of it. What, though, should be our reaction if certain counsel is repeated occasionally? For example, God’s Word counsels Christians to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) For over a century, this subject has periodically been discussed in The Watchtower. Christ’s brothers surely demonstrate their loving concern for our spiritual welfare by publishing articles on this and other inspired counsel. Paying attention to these reminders is one way to show that we are following our perfect Leader, Jesus Christ.
“The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established,” states Proverbs 4:18. Yes, Jesus’ leadership is progressive, not stagnant. Another way to cooperate with Christ’s “brothers” is to have a positive attitude toward any refinements in our understanding of Scriptural truths as published by “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Matt. 24:45.
We also demonstrate our submission to Christ’s “brothers” by cooperating with the appointed overseers in the Christian congregation. The apostle Paul said: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls.” (Heb. 13:17) For example, an elder may give us encouragement related to the importance of having a regular Family Worship evening or may offer suggestions concerning some aspect of our field ministry. A traveling overseer may give us some helpful Scriptural counsel on a particular aspect of Christian living. Our willingly applying such counsel shows that we follow Jesus as our Leader.
The world is sadly lacking in effective leadership. But how refreshing it is to follow Christ’s loving leadership! By all means, let us obey our Leader and cooperate with those he is using today.
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Do you accept Scriptural counsel not to yoke yourself with an unbeliever?