In the Old Covenant, we see leaders like Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon ….Each was a leader, a single leader and they were all types (shadows) of the single leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. In my previous article, I did mention that only selected persons were anointed by God in the Old Covenant.
In the New Covenant, we no longer live under the shadow or types but in the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only legitimate leader we can suscribe to now is Jesus Christ who has all the authority, as all authority has been given to Him by God.
In the Old Covenant, the single leader anointed by God heard from God and led the people; the people were like lost sheep who had no divine enablement to hear from God as they were not born again as Jesus had not yet come. The leaders were the mediators between man and God and they were looked upon as a sort of human “covering/protection” for the sheep
In the New Covenant, we have the anointing (1 John 2 v 20) and we can hear from God as each one of us has the Spirit of God residing in us when we are born again – we are not lost sheep but sheep who can hear His voice. Jesus is now the only mediator between man and God. We are now under the covering/protection of only one supreme leader, Jesus Christ. There is no human leader/denominational covering for saints in the New Covenant as nothing created can replace the Creator.
As each of us can hear His voice, how is leadership in the New Covenant different?
In the New Covenant, the significance of leadership is downplayed. Leadership is now a shared leadership, not a single leadership – it is now the elders. Elders are ordinary Christians (qualifications in 1 Timothy 3) who are more mature in their faith and their function is to oversee. In the New Covenant, there is an emphasis on diverse functions in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12 v 12-31, Romans 12 v 3-8). Overseeing is considered as one of the diverse functions and is not construed as something exclusive or above all other functions, as each part of the body of Christ is equally important. Overseers have oversight and they guide young believers to maturity and they do not control or have authority over them. The various functions in the body of Christ, inclusive of overseeing, is now connected to the Spiritual Head (Col 2 v 19), not any human leader
Eldership is downplayed in Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians, Ephesians……. He addressed his letters to the Christian community and not specifically to elders. My reckoning is that Paul saw eldership as a part of the many diverse functions in the body of Christ and is automatically included when he addressed the Christian communities.
In the Old Covenant, people follow the leader – there was unamity/uniformity and was considered almost synonymous to unity; if there was disobedience to that leadership, bang, there was judgement.
In the New Covenant, judgement has been met on the body of Jesus when He died for us; in the New Covenant, there are diverse functions and each has a different gifting(s). Can we have unamity/uniformity synonymous to unity in the Old Covenant with diversity of functions/giftings? In the New Covenant, we are led by the Spirit and unity can only come through the Spirit, the love of God.
We can all hear from God and we can hear different aspects/different angles of the rich word of God, all pertaining to God – that is how rich God’s word is and that is how we mature in the Lord. We do not necessarily all hear the same thing at the same time from God as like in the Old Covenant followers. It is now walking in the Spirit for each one of us. God is interested in our personal walk with Him as we now, as individuals, have the Holy Spirit in us and all of us are at different levels of our journey with God – hence we hear differently and we all grow towards the same direction into the unity and maturity of the fullness of Christ.
Unity is now in the Spirit realm and not in the flesh realm. It is the “inside-out” unity and not “outside-in” unity. Unity can only come through God’s love and walking in that Love, that is walking in the Spirit. It is no coincidence that the topic of Love is mentioned in 1Cor 12 and Romans 12 after talking about various functions in the body of Christ.
In short, there are differences of leadership in the New Covenant from the Old. It cannot be modelled on the Old Covenant as all those leaders are attribute/types and shadows reflecting Jesus Christ. The reality is now in Jesus Christ that we have in the New Covenant and the leadership is the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Covenant saints now walk in the Spirit and are led by the Spirit. We no longer walk in the shadows!
If leadership in the New Covenant hasn’t changed from the Old Covenant, then I start to wonder what is so glorious about the New Covenant. Is it possible this is one of the many reasons that we have struggle with in encouraging saints to function in the giftings in the body of Christ (church) because we still happily stick to our Old Covenant style of leadership ?
You may have other thoughts?