Today’s lesson is entitled, “A Better Leader.” One of the keys to effective leadership in the church is knowing who you are and what God has called you to be. This passage presents an image that can help us understand the church.
“A Spiritual House” is one of the models explored in Images of the Church in Missions:
“According to this image, the church is both the object of the creative activity of God’s Spirit as well as a testimony to his presence. The church is both sign and instrument of the saving power and presence of the Spirit of God. The church is the temple of the living God. According to the NT passages which use this metaphor, the church is God’s building through the activity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.”
Images of the Church in Mission, John Driver (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1997), pp. 184-185.
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
• If you are like me, you might find Hebrews difficult to follow at times. Maybe The Message version will help (maybe not):
Hebrews 3: 1-6 So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, but Jesus gets far more honor. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house.
6-11 Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says,
Today, please listen;
don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,”
that time of wilderness testing!
Even though they watched me at work for forty years,
your ancestors refused to let me do it my way;
over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked, oh, so provoked!
I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God;
they refuse to walk down my road.”
Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going,
never be able to sit down and rest.”
12-14 So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
These words keep ringing in our ears:
Today, please listen;
don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
15-19 For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.
o The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)
o WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)
• This passage (Hebrews 3) refers to “God’s house.” If Lexington Avenue Baptist Church is God’s house where (or what) is the living room, kitchen, bedroom, tool shed, front porch, closet, etc.?
• Twice I have been a part of churches that for a time were displaced from the sanctuary renovation. In both instances most found it to be a positive experience and said so. Something about being removed from our familiar sanctuary reminds us that church is not the building. What would it be like if, one week or month a year, we decided not to meet in the sanctuary (even though we can), but instead meet in homes or in another facility somewhere else to remind us that the people are the church?
• Church Leadership: Since Jesus is the better leader, our leadership structure and decision-making process should reflect that. Committee and leadership team meetings are scheduled for next Sunday, May 19. How can we conduct these meetings with Jesus as the true leader—the chairperson of every committee and leadership team? How can we discern Christ’s leadership in all of our business?
• Hymnals are available if you need them for the Formations Teaching Guide activity, “Growing in Faithfulness,” (p. 12). Call the church office or see Keith if you would like to use hymnals.
I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.
• Images of the Church in Mission, John Driver (Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1997), pp. 184-185.
• For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)