Another book excerpt this week. This time from Life in the Father’s House by Wayne Mack. This excerpt is regarding one of the roles of church leadership and our submission to them.
As the writer of Hebrews continues his brief discussion of our need to recognize the authority of our leaders, he pauses to explain why this authority is so necessary. He says you should obey and submit to them because “they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.” The imagery behind this statement probably comes from Ezekiel 3:16-21, where God called the prophet a “watchman to the house of Israel.” If Ezekiel spoke the word of the Lord to the people, he was absolved of any responsibility in their wrongdoing; but if he failed to warn them about their sin, he would be punished himself. Or as God said to the prophet, regarding a man who had not been warned, His blood I will require at your hand.”
That imagery underscores the grave responsibility God has entrusted to the leaders of a church, but it also reveals the tremendous necessity of their ministry. Individual believers, like “the house of Israel,” are in need of watchmen to warn us of the encroaching enemies of the soul that would wage war against our purity or rob us of our joy. We often fail to see those enemies coming, but our leaders, who are better equipped than we are, can help us to recognize their presence and fight them more effectively. Those enemies could include false teaching, bad choices, and broken relationships. Church leaders have been ordained and gifted by God to battle such evils on our behalf (cf Eph 4:11-14; Gal 6:1-6; Matt 18:15-17)
Challenging stuff for both leaders and those of us who sit under them.