Ungodly leaders: Rod Chiswell

There are far too many examples around the world of leaders holding positions in the church while living with blatant disregard in wilful disobedience to God’s commands. Rod Chiswell asks how can this happen?

Zechariah (in chapter 11, 4-17) reminds us that worthless shepherds gain prominence amongst God’s people when the people themselves begin reject God’s word. This explains what has happened today in many parts of the Anglican Church in the UK, Canada, and America, even in Australia.

God had Zechariah play out two parables, enacting firstly the part of a good shepherd and then of a worthless shepherd. On one level these parables are a reflection of Israel’s history and a warning to them about their future:

Though Israel were a flock not cared for and led into sin and finally to their slaughter by bad leaders, the flock on the whole were just as bad as their leaders, rejecting the good shepherds God had given them.

  • As punishment God increasingly sent them worthless leaders, giving them over to evil and finally abandoning them.
  • Israel repeated this history by reject Jesus, who came as God himself to lead them. And this history is still being repeated today.
When God’s people give up on sound teaching, they gather around themselves bad leaders (2 Tim 4:3). This is exactly what had begun to happen even in the early church, who only 60 years after the ascension of Christ, are warned by him that he would not tolerate their tolerance of false teachers (Rev 2:14).

Just because it may be the case now that we are committed to studying and applying God’s word, we must not become complacent in our attentiveness. When God’s word is preached faithfully by godly leaders, but their word goes out largely unheeded, we are warned by God of what his response will be: our responsibility is to respond to faithful leaders with obedience; if we begin to let go of obedience, God’s punishment will be to give us over to our disobedience, and we will then be in danger of his abandonment.

Self-centred religion: Rod Chiswell

In Zechariah 7, God’s people come with a question about tradition and get an ear-full in return for their hollow and self-centred religion. When we act as if our churches exist merely to meet our needs, when we become precious about the way things are done and annoyed with change, we betray the same need today to hear their rebuke. This sermon flawed me.

God targets four areas his people had neglected (Zechariah 7:9-10):

1. Failure to administer true justice

  •  We should truly seek to hold accountable those in the wrong and vindicate those in the right.
  • When we see laws being made that fail to protect the innocent we should use our democratic system to make our voice heard as Christians.
  • Ordinary Christians can have an extraordinary power when we choose to speak against injustice.
2. Failure to show love and compassion

  •  Our ‘neighbour’ is the one who we come across who is in need. When we sanitise our lives by avoiding getting involved with the needy, we show hollow religiosity.
  • When was the last time you put your family out in order to help a needy person?
3. Failure to care for the vulnerable

  • Do we recognise and give priority to those in our midst who are vulnerable to oppression and exploitation: the single mother, the divorcee in pain, the widow, the foreigner?
  • These are the people we should be seeking to befriend, and with whom we should be sharing our lives and what we have.
 4. Failure to think good of others

  •  When we become critical of our society, judging other’s motives, failing to give them the benefit of the doubt, we fail in the same way.
  • Thinking badly of others leads to evil because it causes us to fail to love those around us.
  • God wants us to do good to our enemies, praying for those who hate us.