Summary: The third in a series on our church’s vision statement -- this one dealing with the area of "developing reproducing leaders" -- leaders who are servants.
Our Vision: What kind of leaders?
Warren Bennis teaches and writes and is a keen observer of American culture. Over a decade ago, he wrote, "Leadership is a word on everyone’s lips. The young fight against it. Police seek it. Experts claim it. Artists spurn it. Scholars want it. Bureaucrats pretend to have it and politicians wish they could find it. [But] everyone agrees onâ€¦one fact. There is less of it today than there used to be."
Most Christians would agree on something else. There’s a leadership crisis in the American Church. I want to talk with you about the fundamental aspect of leading like Jesus in His Church. We’re in our 3rd week of four that we’re spending on our vision. I’ve told you how we arrived at the short sentence that gets printed weekly on the front of your bulletin. Trinity leaders spent over two years, praying, studying, discussing and identifying the key focus God has for us. That sentence is a distilled version. Our vision is to grow a body of authentic, passionate Christians intent on loving and impacting Lincoln with Christ’s gospel.
Three strategies stand behind the statement. We spent the last two weeks talking about the one that’s foundational: if you ignore the foundation, obviously what you build on it won’t last. We recognize that our foundation is passion for Jesus Christ -- we want God to grow us into a community of authentic and passionate Christians. Neither Christ nor our culture are in need more churches or more Christians who play games and remain content with anemic, pathetic Christianity. There’s a plague of "playing church" in our time -- that’s not what we are going to be about. After all, if you and I don’t follow Jesus Christ and buy into His agenda, what is the point? So authenticity and passion are the objective.
Next time, we’ll talk about the kind of impact God wants us to have in our community. Today our issue is one that’s not easy to see in the vision statement -- it’s developing reproductive leaders. We want to grow leaders, many leaders, who will in turn grow others toward leadership. The Church always needs leaders -- but there’s a distinctive variety of leader we ought to be growing -- the variety Jesus described. According to Jesus, for His purpose, for His kingdom, there’s really just one sort of leader that will do -- that’s a serving leader.
Would you open your Bible again to the passage Josh read for us? The Bible is our source -- if you don’t have yours, find one nearby in a chair. We’re primarily thinking about Jesus’ words in Luke chapter 22. I also want to give you some verses from the same scene in John’s gospel. Josh read verses 14-27; we want to focus on just the last couple of verses. You know it’s at this point in time when Jesus and the disciples celebrated for the last time the Passover. In the context, Jesus tells them how much He’d wanted to celebrate it with them; He informs them, this will be the last time until they are in His kingdom.
Then Jesus initiated something we still practice as the Church -- it was a new kind of celebration, He said, one that would stir up our memory of Him and His sacrifice -- that bread and wine He passed to them that night took on a whole new meaning. They’re in that borrowed room, what’s called an "upper room". You’ve seen some of those paintings of this scene by Masters like Leonardo da Vinci. Those art works might make you think Jesus and the guys sat formally, behind a rough wood dining
table. Somebody said, the da Vinci portrait looks as if somebody was there with a camera and said, "Okay, guys, now for the picture, everyone move to that side of the table and look this way!"
Jesus and His men actually sort of laid around a very low table. It was low enough that you could reach the top by lying on one side -- it was likely U-shaped, so they could see each other, and they sort of half laid and rested on one elbow, and ate with the other hand. This is the setting, Johnâ€˜s gospel tells us, where Jesus did something absolutely incredible. During the dinner, Jesus, Lord and Master and Teacher, washed the disciples’ feet. In the culture, people would have bathed at a Roman bath, where there was often both hot and cold running water. Some city baths even had comforts like saunas. Before going to someone’s home, especially for a meal, you’d take a bath. But then, there was for most people just one form of transportation -- their two feet. That meant the disciples came into that house and upper room in their dirty sandaled feet, having walked from Bethany on dirt roads and streets.