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.

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