Mic 2:12-13 "I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock in its pasture; the place will throng with people. One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head."
God is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He leads from start to finish. Our role as His people is to follow as the Lord leads: "I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob; I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel. I will bring them together like a sheep in a pen." While there will always be human leaders ("their king will pass through before them"), their responsibility as leaders is not to create a following but to be a follower of "the Lord at their head".
The heart of discipleship is follower-ship. Whether sheep or shepherds, our responsibility is to follow the Lord who is at the Head of everything. We confess Christ as the Head of the Church but we usually mean that symbolically. The real "head" may be the senior pastor and the people follow the pastor rather than Christ who is ultimately the real Head that they should follow. Disunity occurs in a church when some people follow the true Leader while others follow their own self-appointed leaders.
But many Christians do not know how to follow Christ as their Head. So they let the pastors do it and they simply follow the pastors. This is a beginning of cultic following, where the people do not say, "Thus says the Lord" but rather "Thus says Pastor X..." But what does it take to follow the Lord as the Head of the Church? I believe there are three simple steps:
- Acknowledge Christ as the True Head ("the Lord at their head"): Many Christians willingly confess Jesus as Saviour, but balk at confessing Him as Lord and King, as the true Head of the Church. If we are to hear God's voice so that we obey Him, we have to acknowledge that the Lord is the true Leader. The Apostle Peter reminds us that the true Shepherd is Jesus Christ: "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2:25).
- Recognize His Spirit speaking ("Is the Spirit of the Lord angry? Does he do such things?"): The people of Israel during Micah's time could not recognize when the Spirit is speaking. They had prophets who only prophesied to them what they would like to hear. But they were totally ignorant of the fact that the Spirit of the Lord was grieved with their conduct, so they asked, "Is the Spirit of the Lord angry?" We teach Christians they need to be filled with the Spirit. But we stop short of teaching they need to walk by the Spirit, to listen to His inner voice and promptings, especially with regard to what is immoral and unethical. In short, obey the Holy Spirit.
- Read His Word ("Do not my words do good to him whose ways are upright?): There is no way to grow in the knowledge of the ways and will of God without taking the time and trouble to study God's Word. For us new covenant believers, we must focus on Jesus' teachings as found in the Gospels and study how He lived His life as the Follower of His Father. The Great Commission emphasizes the importance of making disciples by teaching them what Jesus had taught: "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Mt 28:19). And the promise is Jesus' presence and power as we obey: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Mt 28:20). The key word here is "obey everything." Not just obey what we can or what we like, but everything, because obedience is at the heart of true discipleship.
Father, thank You that You have called us to be followers of Your Son Jesus Christ who is our Head. You have given us Your Spirit and Your Word so that we may obey you in everything we do. Amen.