CCCNZ Ambassador, Mark Grace
The integrity of Christian leadership resounds in what we say 'yes' to, and what we say 'no' to.
The first four statements of Psalm 146 are almost self-talk. 'Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.'
Each statement is the psalmist saying, 'Yes'.
Yes, my soul will adore God. Yes, my body will resound with the greatness of God. Yes, my whole life will celebrate the goodness of God. Yes!
Why does the psalmist, whose life and lips are saturated in the greatness of God, speak to themselves so strongly?
I think it’s because our hearts can take God’s praiseworthiness for granted.
I am astounded how quickly my own heart takes God’s praiseworthiness too lightly.
I’m shocked at how quickly my heart takes God’s praiseworthiness too casually. But Christian leadership is also about what we say 'no' to.
Who or what do you say 'no' to?
In 2021, we need to say 'no' to putting our trust in princes, the powerful, and the influential. We are not to give our hearts to political leaders, to the wealthy, or to social media influencers. We are not to pin our hopes on those with power, prestige, or prowess.
In New Zealand or internationally. We are not to put our eggs in their baskets. They are only human. They are fallible, fragile. They cannot save. To think they can is, at best, foolishness and, at worst, idolatry.
Our help and our hope is the God of Jacob. Our ultimate happiness is found in his help and hope alone. Why? Verses 6 - 9 give us a picture of the heart of mercy and justice of our God.
How does the character of our God impact our leadership in New Zealand?
God is the creator of everything within New Zealand’s 15,000 kilometres of coastline.
He is the God who upholds the cause of the oppressed... like the 12,000 unborn children aborted each year in New Zealand, or recent immigrants being taken advantage of, or tangata whenua seeking redress for historic injustices.
He is the God who cares for the hungry... like the one in five children growing up in a home in New Zealand experiencing 'food insecurity', unsure when the next meal is coming. He is the God who offers freedom to prisoners... like the 10,000 people incarcerated in 18 institutions across New Zealand.
He is the God who gives sight to the blind... like the 30,000 New Zealanders who are blind or vision-impaired. He is the God who watches over the foreigner... like the many refugees and immigrants who come from other countries to make New Zealand home.
He is the God who is able to sustain the fatherless and the widow... like the 200,000+ single parent families in New Zealand, and the thousands here who have faced the death of a spouse.
He is the God who frustrates the way of the wicked, and the God who loves the righteous.
He is the God who reigns... over New Zealand and New Zealanders forever. I’m struck by how similar Psalm 146 is to Isaiah 61, quoted by Jesus as he begins his ministry (Luke 4:18).
Jesus is God.
God sends Jesus, who is righteous, to become oppressed, a prisoner, hungry.God sends Jesus to be bowed down and broken, to bear and be sin at the cross, so wicked people can be made right with him.
Christian leadership is about saying 'yes' to Jesus, and 'no' to putting our hopes in the powerful and influential.
We can work with them but we don’t worship them.
We can respect those who have political influence but we don’t rally to their cause.
We can engage them but we are not enamoured by them.
Why? Because Jesus' life, death, and resurrection shows us he is our hope and our help. He alone can deal with the sin in us and through us as a society.
He alone is worthy of our praise.
He alone can save.
Jesus, our King who is seated on the throne and will reign forever.