Matthew 16:17-19 says:
Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
This last year was filled with intense challenges like COVID-19 lockdowns, political conflict, riots and protests and the growing celebration of ungodly values. Although it's easy to point the finger of blame at ideological enemies such as politicians, educators or Hollywood, it's important to remember that there is only one group of people ordained by God to influence this world: the church.
2,000 years ago, Jesus gave us a ring of keys to bind the works of darkness and to loose the blessings of His kingdom in this world. A number of keys are still working well:
— We have powerful preachers sharing God's word in-person and online.
— We have great worship bands singing beautiful songs of praise.
— The gifts of the Holy Spirit are flowing more than ever.
Yet, with all the good things going on currently in Christianity, it doesn't take a genius to see that over the last 50 years, the church has lost much of our influence in this world. Sadly, we have failed to bind the influence of evil, and our failure has unintentionally "loosed" other influences to prevail. As a pastor for over 33 years in the city of San Francisco, I know from experience that the transformation of society is much easier said than done.
The Missing Key
I believe Jesus gave us a full set of keys to influence this world for His glory, but over the centuries, we have lost a crucial key: kingdom leadership.
Kingdom leadership begins with the revelation that God is the quintessential leader. We see His leadership throughout Scripture, but it is most evident in the very first chapter of the Bible. The creation account is a study in intentionality and strategy. It is obvious that God had a clear vision for what he wanted to create, and he executed that vision in careful sequence culminating in the creation of Adam and Eve.
Although we like to emphasize God's role as a loving heavenly Father, His first statement to Adam and Eve was not particularly relational. In fact, it was more of a leadership job description: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion ..." (Gen. 1:28b, NKJV). The leader of the universe created humanity in His Image; therefore, we were created to lead!
— Be fruitful: This speaks of God's heart for excellence, increase and abundance. God wants everything we do to prosper. (See John 15:1-8.)
— Multiply: God desires reproduction, both biologically and spiritually. We raise children who raise children, and we make disciples who make disciples. (See Matt. 20:18-20.)
— Fill the earth: If we begin with one couple, the only way to fulfill this command is through a thousand generations. God loves multigenerational strategies.
— Subdue it: This command implies resistance and conflict. We are called to be kingdom warriors, overcoming the forces of evil and bringing all of creation back under the loving lordship of the Creator. (See 2 Cor. 10:3-4.)
— Have dominion: This is leadership! However, the leadership of the kingdom is a leadership based on influence rather than dominance. (See Matt. 20:24-28.)
Sadly, this directive was soon horribly damaged through human sin. In response, God set in motion a redemptive plan that culminated in God Himself becoming flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. Through His death, resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus made a way to restore humanity to God's original design. We are a chosen generation and a royal priesthood! We were redeemed by Jesus, that we should be "kings and priests unto our God" (Rev. 5:10b, MEV).
It's time for the church to rediscover the missing key of kingdom leadership.
Reimagine Kingdom Leadership
It is my conviction that every follower of Jesus is called to be a world-changing leader who brings "salt and light" into every sphere of society. It doesn't matter if you are a CEO or a pastor, an educator or a stay-at-home mom, each of us has a God-given destiny to impact the world in a powerful way. In my opinion, there is no higher purpose for any church than to be a "Destiny Incubator" for its members, developing every believer to become the transforming influencer God created them to be. However, in order for this to happen, we must change the way we do church.
In the next few articles, I will be sharing some leadership tools that are both supernatural and super-practical as we partner with God to see His "kingdom come; [His] will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
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