The Power of the Cross class reading for this week was Scriptures from when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17), when He was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), while He was on the cross and they were mocking Him about being “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:36-39), and when He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).
It seems like in all of these stories Jesus was placing Himself in a position of humility. He even turned down Satan when He was offered all the kingdoms of the earth to rule over. This man knew He was God. He was fully one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He also must have known what His inheritance would be, yet He walked in complete meekness and humility for the sake of His followers.
Jesus knew of the resurrection and He knew His time would come to take up His role as King. His immediate focus, however, was not on being in a place of power- His focus was on the hearts of the people. He had to transform their hearts before transforming their government, and one of the ways He did this was by becoming an example of humility for them (and us).
Leaders must be concerned about the hearts of their followers. It takes humility to reach out to the heart because this ultimately requires a laying down of one’s life for that person, whether figuratively or literally. If his or her heart isn’t ready, trying to fix the individual’s exterior issues (words, actions, thoughts) will only produce legalism, or in most cases, rebellion. Without a heart change, there is simply no way that a person’s actions can be backed by righteous motives.
Matthew 12:34 says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Why change the mouth, when you can go straight for the heart? This concept is difficult for a lot of people because it takes patience, endurance, and sacrificial love. Not many leaders are willing to put this kind of time and effort into the lives of their followers. Most would rather have an immediate fix to the problem, or not deal with the problem at all.
Jesus understood that there was no immediate fix to our problems. He has taken the time (approximately 2000 years now) to reach our hearts before coming in and claiming the whole earth as His Kingdom. He has continued to walk out in a state of humility and gentleness as He calls to our hearts, before coming back in His full power and wrath.
Following Jesus’ example, spiritual leadership should come from a place of humility and willingness to take the time to reach out to a person’s heart first. Confrontation should start taking place once the relationship is developed and the person’s heart is softened towards God and towards the leader. Confrontation is Godly and necessary, but confrontation born out of relationship is often far more fruitful than simply confronting someone when there is no shared relationship.
Basically, it all comes down to LOVE. If love is the motive and the foundation for our encounters with people, we will connect with their hearts. If love is not in our agenda, we will be more concerned with their outward actions and we will produce rebels or legalists among our followers.
1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”