Over or Among?

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Kingdom Living #6

Living in the kingdom of Christ is a joint participation in an upward call to growth with each individual at different stages in the process of life under Christ.  Simple. Powerful. Beautiful. The way of the Master was to build people thru disciplined leadership. The process is biblically called discipleship. However, discipleship cannot take place without leadership.

The mission of Christ, given from the beginning, sets every disciple as a leader. Every disciple is actively leading others to either follow Christ or reject Christ. Every disciple is leading other disciples to a higher level of living under the reign of Christ. Now an authority question arises, “How does a leader exercise authority under the reign of Christ?”

There are two models in the New Testament concerning the exercise of authority. In the first more popular model, authority is to be exercised over others. The higher position one attains leads to more power to control. This model results in the greater ones being at the top and the lesser ones toward the bottom. Ambition to be the greatest is birthed from this model of authority.

The second model exercises authority among others. The focus of authority, in this model, is outward, toward those benefited by the authority - not ambitious, self-serving power from being on top. This is best described as servant authority because the power derived from the authority is used to serve others. The greatest serves the least.

Being a disciple of Christ requires one to follow His leadership/authority model. And not only this, but to teach the leadership/authority style He taught to others. So, is the model of Jesus ‘over other’ or ‘among others’?

He taught that Gentile kings ‘have authority over them,’ i.e. their subjects. And He taught they are called ‘Benefactors,’ i.e. good rulers. “But it is not this way with you,” Jesus emphatically taught.

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. (Luke 22:24-26)

Jesus makes it clear. The model He demands from citizens in His kingdom is not an ‘over/under’ model but an ‘among’ model.  The ones with greater authority are not to exercise rule over others; they are not to ‘lord it over’. The ones with greater authority reverse roles with the ones who are to be benefited by them.

The greater become the younger. This means the greater submits in respect and honor to serve the lesser. The greater utilizes his power for the good of the lesser. Thus the leader becomes like the common servant. Jesus not only taught this astonishing model but he modeled it showing how to make it functional.

It is important to note that this model can be very effective in living communities, like the kingdom belonging to Jesus Christ, but is nearly impossible in secular institutions. More next time…

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