May 23, 2016 • Life for Leaders
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Last week, we began to reflect on the astounding truth of Revelation 22:5, namely, that in the new heaven and new earth, we will reign alongside the Lord. As the text says of those who serve the Lord in the New Jerusalem, “And they will reign for ever and ever.”
As we offer ourselves to God as his servants, as we seek his wisdom and his ways, we can be, however imperfectly, the rulers – indeed, the leaders – God has created us to be.
I mentioned that some commentators on Revelation 22:5 are perplexed by this notion of our future reign. They can’t identify the people over whom we will rule in the new earth. I don’t pretend to have this all figured out, but I wonder if we will rule over other beings that inhabit the cosmos (angels, etc.). Whether this is true or not, I’m convinced that our future reign points to something more than governing other beings. I think it has to do with our fulfilling our created purpose.
If you turn from Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, to Genesis 1, the first chapter of the Bible, you find what God’s stated purpose is as he created human beings: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen 1:26). Then, after creating human beings in his image, God said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen 1:28). According to these two verses, God created us so that we might rule over all living things and so that we might “subdue” the earth. God gave us authority over the whole earth and all its creatures in order that we might be fruitful and steward well God’s creation.
Of course, as we know so well from Scripture and our own experience, sin messed up God’s perfect plan. We human beings have exercised authority over creation, but often in ways that have hurt the earth and its creatures, including ourselves. Our rule has been tainted and tarnished. It has been incomplete and ineffective.
Revelation 22:5 reveals that, in God’s future, our rule will be restored to what God had intended from the beginning. We will reign alongside the Lord, exercising wisely the authority he has delegated to us. Our future reign, therefore, does not require that we have human subjects. Rather, it means that, one day, we will fulfill one key aspect of our created purpose. We will finally rule over the earth and its creatures in a way that honors God’s intentions for us and for creation itself.
In the meanwhile, the vision of Revelation 22:5 encourages us to use well the authority God has given us now, even though we know that sin infects both our own hearts and the world around us. Nevertheless, as we offer ourselves to God as his servants, as we seek his wisdom and his ways, we can be, however imperfectly, the rulers – indeed, the leaders – God has created us to be. We can begin now to steward faithfully all that God has entrusted to us for his purposes and his glory. We can do this in our workplaces, neighborhoods, families, cities, and nations. We can serve the Lord by exercising well the authority he has given to us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How would you describe the authority God has given to you now? In what settings are you authorized to “reign” over part of creation?
In what ways does your leadership reflect God’s intentions for human beings? In what ways are you stewarding well what God has entrusted to you?
How might the vision of Revelation, underscoring our created purpose in Genesis, shape your exercise of leadership today?
Gracious God, thank you for the vision of Revelation. Thank you for the amazing and encouraging truth that, one day, we will reign alongside you.
As we consider this truth, may it affect how we live today. May we exercise the authority you have given us in ways that honor you and steward well both your creation and its creatures. By your grace and power, help us not to be dominated by the sin that infects our leadership. Rather, may we lead with hearts governed by you and lives offered to you in service.
All praise be to you, Almighty God, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.