It was a big night for Jesus and his disciples. Just a few hours from now, Jesus would be arrested, put up on false charges, and murdered on a cross. They shared a Passover meal together and took some time just to be around each other. For a while now, Jesus spoke of what was to come, and he knew his hour had come.
This was it. The final chance for Jesus to rally his men to the cause ahead. In so many ways the fate of God’s kingdom was on the line. If there was any time to make sure the disciples really got what he had been talking about for the past three years, this was it.
If I were Jesus at the last supper, I would lay everything on the line. These men were going to be responsible for carrying the message forward. To me, I would be in their face until they knew how important this task was and would make sure they had it right.
I wouldn’t back down until I thought they got it. It would be THAT important.
Yet, something different happened. Instead of getting in their face, he fell down at their feet. He removed his outer clothing, grabbed a basin and towel and got to work washing the nasty kicks of his men. Everyone got a scrub, even the one who would eventually betray him.
Christ laid down his power so his disciples would know what was really at the heart of God.
Jesus didn’t force the issue. He showed them in one simple act everything he had been talking about for years.
Lay down the power. God will take care of the rest.
The stories I shared yesterday involved faith-based organizations and churches who are used to having the “bully pulpit”, so to speak. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but more with the understanding of how churches are used to operating within their scopes of influence. Most ministers have a time of the week where people come to them and they are able to speak about God and salvation with little to no challenge. For the most part, the gathered American church can operate in such a way where it will never be challenged or forced to change how it presents her message. At least, within the walls of the church.
Yet, when the church is asked to go into places where she has to operate in a format or manner which is foreign, she struggles. Or, maybe she thinks it isn’t worth it. Or, she protests it all together.
And because of this, we find the church being less and less a part of the public conversation and losing a relevant voice in music, art, and culture. Because we are scared to lay down our power, the remaining influences we wield are dedicated to propping up the existing institutions we previously established.
I don’t mean this to be harsh. Really. This is front of mind as I have left formal ministry and have to operate within the public square. It is quite different. To really serve people where they are, I have to be willing to play by a different set of rules. I no longer have the “bully pulpit”.
Yet, I am seeing how God is mighty at work in the world. I get to “share the gospel” with the students I work with the way in a way I am familiar. I have to rely on relationships, presence, service, and a trust that God is working mightily through these avenues.
I have learned when I lay down my power, I allow God to really work. I have to lay down my agendas and assumptions.
What if the church decided to lay down even a fraction of her power for the sake of those who have none? What if the influence of the gathered church was spent on the marginalized and disenfranchised and not on herself?
These are big questions I have started asking myself being outside of full-time ministry. I don’t fault the church for not wanting to spend her influence this way. I would just like to have the conversation.
What do you think about this? How could the gathered church lay herself down for the sake of the world? What power would we have to lay down?