Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

The Role Model Pedestal

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Barry Johnson

The Role Model Pedestal The Role Model Pedestal

Date 2013-03-17
Document (PDF) BFF-20130317-TheRoleModelPedestal.pdf

Call to Worship

From Ephesians 1:3-13, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise …”


Parents, grandparents, schoolteachers, principals, coaches, politicians, the media, and many pastors and other people concerned for, or meddling in, the lives of children and young adults, are always busy identifying and praising, or shaming, potential role models. Community leaders are always casting their lights of approval on people who are deemed of such worthiness that people, younger and older, should be admonished and encouraged to live like the role model of the moment.

Why do they, why do we, do that? Why do we proffer, put forth, role models to be emulated? Is it not because we understand failure in life, and we want the best for our children, we want them to obtain the best that life has to offer them?

Well, truth be known, most frequently, these chosen role models — the great athletes, the great moralists, the great politicians, the great teachers and coaches, and so often the great preachers, and so many others -- fail to live up to their billings. All these role models from human life so often have some event, or season, in their lives when they fall away from their own high standards, or when it is revealed that they had, and sometimes still have, deeply-hidden sin and sin patterns — or hidden character flaws as the secular world might more likely say — and in fact never, in the first place, had lived by the high standards that garnered them such high approval ratings, and therefore should never have been placed on the “Role Model Pedestal”, in the first place.

And sometimes we run into a person called forth as a role model who is realistic and honest about himself/herself, and rejects this role model role. Case in point, former NBA player Charles Barkley. (Explain.)

Yet, in all this mixture of human acclaim of role models, and the failures and denials of chosen role models, it is important that we can have some human role models, but it is far more important that our role models come from the Holy Trinity. If we do identify human role models, we need to do so with a grain of salt, actually, a block of salt, because of the human condition, history and prognosis of sin and failure.

No man, no woman, is perfect. Therefore, no man, no woman, is a perfect role model.

The perfect role model is found in the Person of the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a perfect role model because He guides us in the way of all truth, John 16:13. From this, we have the admonition about the importance of truth on our personal journeys through life, found in Ephesians 4:15, to live “speaking the truth in love”. The proper mindset for speaking the truth in love is two-fold: (1) to speak out of, and from, the humility found in Ephesians 4:1-2 (“to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love”); and (2) to speak out of, and from, the unity of the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ found in Ephesians 4:13 (“till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”). And the proper purpose in speaking the truth in love is not to assure your friend that his ugly shirt is handsome, but the proper purpose is to proclaim and to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ, that, Ephesians 4:15-16, in “speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — (which) … causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

However, this caveat about your friend’s ugly shirt does not license the hypocrisy of little white lies in public and private talk, but means that you should choose to guide your tongue in the way of all truth, in all conversations, because in doing so you both example and minister the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if you do so in the mindset of humility and the unity of the faith in and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and with the purpose, the intended purpose in the words of your life, to proclaim and advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God the Father

God the Father is a perfect role model because He is faithful and He is love. Because God the Father is love, 1 John 4:8, He cares, and because He cares, whenever we confess our sins, He is, 1 John 1:9, “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We can, and should, follow the role model of God the Father, 1 John 4:7-8, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God: and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” In living by loving, as God the Father loves us — in fidelity and forgiveness — we love our family, our friends, our neighbors and strangers, just as God loves us. In so living and loving, in the mindset of humility and unity of the faith in Jesus Christ, we both example and minister the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is a perfect role model because of His servant-hood and His service. In Mark 9:35, after gathering His disciples around Him, Jesus taught them, saying to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” This teaching of Jesus, as recorded in Luke 22:26-27, continues with further explanation, recording that He also said to His disciples, “ … he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

The greatest service of “the One who serves”, of Jesus, was in His obedience to the command of God the Father, resulting in Jesus’ sacrificial death, the shedding of His blood on the cross at Calvary, in atonement for our sins, yours, mine, our ancestors and our heirs, for all of us, for all of humanity, if we, if they, would but confess His name, that He is who He says He is, the Son of the Living God, Jehovah/Yahweh, who is the “I am Who I am” ( of Exodus 3:14).

Jesus modeled for us the instruction of 2 John 6, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” Jesus lived and walked to the cross, and then died on the cross, by loving God enough to serve Him by obeying His commandments. It takes that kind of love chosen by us, walking in God’s love for us, for you and me individually, to obey God’s commandments to us, to you and me, to follow the role model of Jesus, as described in Philippians 2:8, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself (a choice He made) and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

(A Seque to Marriage, the Cornerstone of Life)

Jesus taught us about the service of obedience of God’s commandments, by His example, and also by the teaching through Paul, in Ephesians 5:25, 28 for husbands, so listen you men of the church, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her … So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.”

The whole earthly life of Jesus, the history of that life, is a history of sacrificial obedience to the commandments of God. As men and women, we are called to marry — man and woman in marriage, and no other structure of marriage — Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31 — “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” For men and women in marriage, Malachi 3:15 explains that God intended, and intends, marriage because He seeks “Godly offspring”. God does not seek marriage to be infertile, as is the certain result of marriage between two of the same gender; nor does God seek the offspring of sexual relationships to be cast aside as medical waste through the murder of abortion. The point, of this aspect of the call of Jesus for us to choose to serve in obedience to the commandments of God, is that He calls us to that servant-hood, beginning in our families, with men to take the lead in sacrificial service to their wives, by laying down their lives, sacrificially, everyday, for their wives, just like Christ did for the church, even unto His death. Men, simply put, your fulfillment and joy of life is founded in such sacrificial obedience to God through service to your wife and in your joint rearing of “Godly offspring”.

In our culture today, young people, and many older people, are on the prowl, for opportunities of the flesh, to use their liberty to explore their own flesh and to exploit the flesh of others. Galatians 5:13 is one of Paul’s Holy-Spirit inspired words of admonition and correction about such a chosen lifestyle, as he reminds us of the call to service rather than exploitation, as he reminds us that fulfillment is not in selfishness and self-centered-ness, but in sacrificial service. Galatians 5:13: “For you, brethren (speaking to the men, who are called to lead by service), have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this (in part, quoting Jesus from Matthew 22:37-40, and quoting Leviticus 19:18): ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.”

If we do not love our neighbors, and especially our wives and children, through sacrificial service, then the opposite will occur: selfish exploitation and a culture of families who bite and devour and consume one another. The divorce rate is a measure of such unloving, un-serving and un-swerving selfishness, led by the men of our culture. Men should lead their families, by service, and should not destroy their families by thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think (see Romans 12:3).

Integration of the Three Role Models of the Person of the Holy Trinity

These three, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, comprise, and are, the Person of the Holy Trinity. In them, we have the perfect role model: truth (the Holy Spirit), love (God the Father), and service (Jesus Christ). Truth. Love. Service.

I don’t want to name fallen human role models, but as you ponder you will think of them. Except, I know that I am one. I am a fallen human role model. In my imperfections, I have failed in truth, in love and in service, and have sought forgiveness-es. No man, no woman, is perfect. Therefore, no man, no woman, is a perfect role model.

However, when we do look for and at human role models, I make this suggestion: Look first for Christians, for those who have been born again by proclamation, sincerely from their hearts, of belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father, for those who, in that belief, live in faith in Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit, a belief and faith that inspires them to live and walk in humble repentance for their sins (of which there are many), and to live in truth, love and service, especially beginning in their home lives.

You will see the manifestations of such lives, of such human role models, when you find the fruit of their lives manifest in these nine qualities (Galatians 5:22-23): “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control “. In such role models of flesh and blood, you will come as close as it is possible to be found, in finding men and women who in fact live and have their being in truth, love and service. The only purpose well-served in even these, the best of possible human role models, is in understanding that they show the way to Christ and a life built on that Rock, the Rock of Jesus Christ.

But the ultimate reality is that the best role models are found in the Person of the Holy Trinity, for in that Oneness is where we find uncompromising truth, unceasing love, and unrelenting service. The Person of the Holy Trinity is the best role model, the only one that really belongs on the Role Model Pedestal. For the unmarried, take on the character of the Person of the Holy Trinity, and walk today when you go out that door in the liberty of freedom from bondage to sin and death, in the freedom of truth, love and service, instead of lies, exploitation and robbery. Men, make it so in how you lead your wives and families. Men and women, make it so in your life, in your lives, and teach your children that way by instruction, and lead your children that way by your own example.

There is, of course when you think about it, no better role model than to be found in the Person of the Holy Trinity: truth, love and service. That truly, in Christ, is the best life has to offer any of us.

God bless you and Amen+