GNB 65

July 29, 2022


“And what does the Lord require of you? He requires you to act justly. He requires you to love mercy. He requires you to walk humbly with Him. [These are not mere suggestions!].” (Micah 6.8)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord; His mighty power is with us. Put on the full armor of God. In doing so you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Rather, it is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God. When the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground; and after you have done everything, you will be able to stand.” (Ephesians 6.10-13)


For today’s reflection in this continuing journey of “being clothed in righteousness,” I must add an additional passage of scripture. It comes from the teaching of the apostle Paul to those who were of Hebrew background by birth or by association. That would fit the bill for Paul himself as I shared a couple of days ago as he was both Jew (from the tribe of Benjamin) and Gentile (a son of a Roman father.) Again, Paul speaks only of what he knows so that we might know ourselves following a similar pursuit. Yesterday, I presented that we are, as mighty ones of God and followers of the Way of Christ, members of the proposed and engaged by faith “royal priesthood of all believers.” It was a commissioning given by God to Israel and Christ to the Church, the community of faith. While there were established stations of ministries titled “priest,” the function of a priest as it related to God was expected of all believers for whatever circle of community life they were a part. In particular, the family would have been the most important designation. The “head of household” would serve as the convener and intervener of faith and faith responses to and with God on behalf of his family. There were also priests then who served that function in the Temple. That was a whole different level of accountability. For many it would be a fatal one but that is a different story. The thrust of today’s reflection has to deal with developing the understanding of the structure of this “priesthood of all believers.” If there is, and there is, such a priesthood, then there needs to be, and there is, a “priest of priests.” Scripturally, that person is titled “Chief High Priest.” I have no intention of getting into the history of qualifications of the office within the confines of Jewish tradition and Law. I would merely point out that such an office existed and its primary function and purpose was to “offer sacrifices to God directly for the sake of the redemption, reconciliation and blessing of the nation of Israel and her people.” What then of the Church? We know the disciples were called out by Jesus for their wrangling for lead positions among the twelve. I have no doubt they were looking much further ahead to be in charge of “other things” as well. If you remember, James and John, at the urging of their mother (in one gospel rendering) and by their mother directly to Jesus (in another gospel rendering), expressed a desire to be seated at the right and left hand of Jesus just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit would be seated at the right and left hand of God. Generally, sons are named after their father or more specifically as sons of their father since last names were not used in the ancient world. When James and John are introduced in scripture, they are called “The Sons of Thunder.” It sounds to me as if the real “thunder” was not their father but their mother as she spoke with such boldness. But, then so, too, did her sons who obviously took their lead from her, or their father whichever the case might have been. What I am alluding to is that there had to be a leader, a head of household, even among the disciples and more especially as the Church. We know the imagery used for describing the Church as a “body of believers.” The head of the Church is not Peter nor Paul but Christ alone. And this is where the needed scripture reference comes into play, as follows:

 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses. Rather, we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4.14-16)

If Jesus is the “head of the Church” completing the image of the body of believers, the community of faith, then we take our lead as well as our instruction from Him. He is the Chief High Priest. We, then, as His disciples, joint heirs in the Kingdom of joint Father, knitted together by the Holy Spirit in form and function, are members of and participants in “the royal priesthood of ALL believers.” So much emphasis is then placed on the understanding of this “right relationship.” It is the rubric for understanding how the community of faith works in all circles of community life: government, business, support agencies, schools and most importantly- the family. It is not unexpected that we would find in the same letter to the community of faith in Ephesus the call to order described as a “submission to authority.” We are clothed with duty, responsibility and authority in the station, or position, we hold as leaders of the faith by our witness and testimony. One such descriptor is the right relationship of husbands and wives. The call to be “submissive” is not one of subjugation but of orientation. Where do we take our “lead” from. It actually flows from the true Head who is Christ. The husband is expected to be submissive to Christ in the execution of his duties as husband just as the Church is expected to be submissive to Christ in its duties. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the Church (exampled first by His relationships with the disciples and those who received His ministry in their lives.) The wife is expected to be submissive to her husband as she is submissive in her spirit to Christ as is expected for the Church to be submissive to Christ as its One True Head/Leader. The wife is commanded to love her husband as Christ commands us fully to love one another. In the execution of her duties, she honors both her husband and Christ. She also established the paradigm of “next generation” of leaders and followers and how they, too, should live in “right relationships.”

A tall order to be sure and one that cannot be nearly accomplished if all are not “clothed with righteousness.” It would be at this point that I would refocus our heart, mind and spirit on the teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount as He said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Trust that the ordering and provision of your daily lives will be met accordingly.” How it sounds like the family system, like the Temple system and most assuredly the Church system are intended to be acts of worship, serving God in spirit and in truth. If we are truly “followers of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God,” then we must see Him in His full self: Prophet, Priest, King, Shepherd, Savior, Teacher and Friend in the Family of God. Many hats but only “one Head.” It is from the head, the head of the Chief High Priest, that we are lead in worship daily, moment by moment. It is a good thing He is also the Good Shepherd seeking those who are lost for we are a people who seem to have wandered far from the truth. We have done so because we seek our own way, our own identity, our own truth. But, we can be “restored, redeemed, reconciled and repurposed” by that same Good Shepherd, who is the Chief High Priest. He not only makes sacrifices on our behalf but is the sacrifice Himself so that we might have life eternal and abundant free from the exposure of our shame and clothed in righteousness with His love!


Lead us as only You can lead. Direct us as only You can direct. Love us as only You can love. Call us into life as it was always meant to be. And we will follow You all the days of our lives in the name of Jesus! AMEN!

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