Models And Examples

Probably the most powerful theme that touched lives during our Easter conference in Shinyanga was the subject of being an example, a model. Many of the sisters who shared spoke on this topic. Sister Veronique said, “Whether we like it or not (once we are saved) we are all examples and models. We die so that the life of Christ may revealed in us.”

She said further, “It is God’s plan that you and I become examples of the life of the Spirit.”

Those were truly humbling words. I thought, What a privilege! What an indescribable honor it is to become an example of the life of the Spirit in this world. The Bible calls this world

“this present evil world”. (Gal. 1:4)

What a privilege to show off the glory and life of God in a dark and dying world!

But again, what a responsibility! We are to be examples of the life of the Spirit in our homes, and everywhere else, in every circumstance and every situation.

The thought that I ought to be an model and example to my wife and children brought a slight chill to my body. With we men, we want to be respected as husbands and fathers in our houses. And yet, that respect is earned! It is earned as we humble ourselves more and reflect the character of Jesus who laid down His life for us. It is not a simple matter of providing for our families. It is the more noble task of humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness when we need to, both to our spouses and our children. That is the example we need to show as Christians.

The fruit of the Spirit is the example we need to bring forth.

Being an example of the life of the Spirit comes with a price. It is accompanied by a death to the flesh. The two cannot co-exist. Galatians 5:17:

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The flesh and the Spirit strive against each other. None is willing to let the other win. They are mortal enemies within us. But we are the referee. Our (crucified or uncrucified) wills allow or disallow the flesh or the Spirit to carry the victory in our lives.

When we crucify the flesh, we suffer. We suffer when we are mistreated or humiliated and we patiently bear it with a loving and forgiving heart. We suffer when we lack something for the gospel’s sake. We suffer when our rights are taken away. We suffer when we have to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. It is doing all this with joy in our hearts.

A Christian suffers in many different ways. But it is this suffering for the gospel’s sake that brings or bears the life of Christ in us. It is not a matter of being a good person. It is a matter of dying to our flesh, period!

This is the only way that we can become models and examples in our families, in the church, and to the world. We are called to live such a spiritually desirable life that people will look at our lives and say, “This is what I am missing. This is what I desire to have in my life.”

[One way or another we are all called to lead – lead by example]


Peter, A Humble Apostle (Part 2)

Would you endorse someone who had publicly humiliated you? I am not talking about politicians here; I am talking about we believers. You see, one trait about a believer is that he walks in the truth, and the truth is not always sweet. In the world there is a lot of lying and covering up, and we cannot use the world as our model.

So, would you endorse or truthfully approve of someone who had publicly shamed you. There are some things which are easier said than done, and this is one of them. But we see the Apostle Peter giving his approval, in the Spirit, to the Apostle Paul, someone who had withstood him to the face… before them all.” (Gal. 2:11-14)

Paul had rebuked the Apostle Peter in front of the church. Now, let’s face it, that’s a hard one to take. It is like a slap in the face. What Paul did to Peter would have many church leaders today literally running to civil court to file libel charges.

But not Peter. We see him writing to the church: “15  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Pet. 3:15-16

He open-heartedly endorsed the ministry of the Apostle Paul. This scripture alone reveals Peter’s heart far more than anything else that he did or said.

And yet Peter does not always come out in the Bible as a very ‘spiritual’ person. He had many weaknesses and shortcomings which the Bible strangely finds the liberty to lay out for all to see. Every born- again believer today is aware of Peter’s failings. In contrast, only a very small portion of the other apostles’ failings are listed in the Bible.

But even within the Body of Christ today we know who the most lovable of Jesus’ disciples is. Everyone will tell you it is Peter! Which means that even we understand that simplicity of character and a willingness to expose our lives pleases God.

As a result of Peter’s humble character, God gave him more revelations than any of the other apostles. And because of this Jesus automatically chose Peter to lead His church.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mat. 16:17-19)

You notice that Jesus used the expression “rock” on Peter, the Peter whose weaknesses everyone was all too aware of. But Jesus was laying the foundation for what the Apostle Paul would later tell us about the Godly nature: “… It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (1 Cor. 15:43)

Notice also that when it came to choosing who would lead the church Jesus did not cast votes. He knew it in the Spirit – and from the character of the man himself.

Peter had a trait which many people, especially church leaders, do not have. He had humility. Many of today’s church leaders are chosen on the merit of “proven leadership skills”, which much of the time translates into a well-educated, groomed character. Jesus chose the rough stone which was Peter. He was looking for someone spiritual, not any ‘perfect’ persons.

Remember Jesus said, “he that is least among you all, the same shall be great” – Lk. 9:48. (What He meant was, ‘He who humbles himself most’). He did not say, ‘He that is most educated’ or ‘He who is richest among you’. Were we to use the same gauge that Jesus used in choosing church leaders, the church would be far more spiritual than it is today!

[Below: Sunset in Mugumu Town, the last stop before entering the Serengeti]