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Archive for April 26th, 2014

New Testament Reading for Today:  Hebrews 13: 1-21

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Introduction:  The New Testament reading is the pastor’s encouragement to the Church in times of persecutions from without and within.  The meditation below is by Pastor Scott Murray (Pastor, Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, TX) from his book  A Year with the Church Fathers: Meditation for Each Day of the Church Year (I am not paid by Pr. Murray to so advertise but gladly do so!)  The meditation is on the verses cited above.

Meditation

We presume that something is better than nothing. This truism is not always true. It is better to be without a leader than to have one who teaches us into hell. If we are to imitate the faith of those who lead us, we need someone leading us who has sound teaching, someone who is faithful to Christ the Word and His Holy Scripture. Without that faithful instruction, we are being led into misbelief, which is the worst vice. It is the worst evil, because it has such horrible results. We are all sinful, even and especially our Church leaders. If we wait until the Church leader arrives who has no fleshly weaknesses or spiritual peccadilloes, we will be waiting forever. Such a person ministered visibly only once among men.

So what should we look for from leaders? The faith. We need them to teach us Christ, His death, His life, His sacrifice for our sins—all that He has done “for us men and for our salvation.” We should imitate the faith that leaders teach. The substance of what is taught, of what is to be believed, should be the outcome of their lives. Like us, our leaders are imperfect clay pots. The excellence of what is preached should commend them to us. Let’s expect neither more nor less.

“When should we obey an evil leader? What kind of evil do we mean here? If he isevil in regard to faith, flee and avoid him. Not just if he is a man, but even if he is an angel from heaven. But if his life is evil, do not pry. This case I am not arguing from my own opinion, but from Holy Scripture. Hear Christ say, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat’ (Matthew 23:2). Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, Christ says, ‘Practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice’ (Matthew 23:3). They have the dignity of office but have an unclean life. Pay attention not to their life but to their words. As regards their character, no one would be harmed by it. Why? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because, although they might be ten thousand times as evil, they will never teach what is evil. But in regard to the faith, the evil is not apparent to all, and the leader with a wicked faith will not decline to teach it” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews, 34.1).

20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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