Follow me as I follow Christ
By Ivan Ho 31 Dec 2016
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”. In other words, “Follow me, as I follow Christ”. This is the most important principle of leadership.
Further to laying down this leadership/ followership principle, Paul went on to explain the principle of headship and spiritual covering between Christ and the church, between husband and wife.
But if one ignores the foundational principle set out in verse one, the headship principle of human leadership and structure would have nothing to stand on.
We are only required to submit to godly authorities on earth in so far as the leaders we follow are submitted to Christ, just as Paul says: “follow me as I follow Christ”. We are not bound by the earthly chains of command if leaderships step outside of godly principles and in so doing rebel against the authority of God.
In the governing principles of God, the husband is the head of the wife, the father is the head of the house, the senior pastor is the head of the local church and so on. These leadership structures should not be violated. But there is a higher principle at work at the same time: Christ is the head of all so that everyone and every governing authorities are to be submitted to Christ.
I remember our whole school went to sing and record the classic “Hallelujah” by Handel with the powerful chorus “And He shall reign forever and ever” in a cathedral in Sydney. Jesus Christ is forever the King of kings and Lord of lords. All authorities in heaven and on earth must be subject to Him.
We are to submit to earthly authorities just as we submit to Christ Himself.
In saying that, we are instructed to follow leaders who themselves follow Christ and the kingdom principles set out by Jesus, whether or not they are born again believers. There are non-believers who follow godly principles and there are believers who violate the word of God, and vice versa. In so far as the leaders are following the teachings and examples of Christ, we need to follow and be submitted to such leadership. The moment they step outside of godly principles, however, we must keep on follow Christ and His words, and be released from submitting to ungodly authorities. Just because a person is in the highest position of any earthly governmental structure makes no difference. The Supreme Court may rule that same sex marriage is legal but as far as the kingdom of God is concerned, it violates spiritual as well as natural order of God and is therefore illegal.
There is a major difference between godly authorities and ungodly authoritarian type of leadership: the former is established upon the word of Christ whereas the later is based on authoritative structures and titles. “Whatever the leader says goes” is an authoritarian type of leadership model.
“The Father’s decree is final”, on the other hand, is kingdom governmental order. In other words, whatever the heavenly Father says is final and must be obeyed. When God says “yes” it’s “yes”. When God says “no” it’s “no”! No leaders should violate the word of God and when they do, we are released from following them.
One of the most damaging things is when leaders compromise the word of God by engaging in human rationalisation. These leaders lower the standards of Godly principles in order to accommodate human weaknesses and failures, which is the devil’s tactics to gradually remove the laws and boundaries set out by God. “Did God indeed say?” was the crafty serpent’s tempting word to Eve. We must not follow leaders who follow the devil!
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV