To find truly selfless people is rare. “Claiming the right to one’s self” enters near the top of the list of spiritual complications, and the kingdom needs people pumping the blood of a servant’s heart. Selfishness and servant leadership travel parallel pathways. The crossover from “me” to “others” punches a hole through solid rock.
Jesus spent a great deal more time on this subject than modern thinking allows for. Even in the sphere of “kingdom” leadership, the discussion of “what’s in this for me?” remains an agenda item for every meeting. The subtle way that people gain identity from what they do with power, authority, gifts, favor, faith, and belief lays foundations for perversions in understanding love, honor, respect, and grace.
Who wishes to be great? Who wishes to be first? Serve. Become a slave. “For, the Son of Man arrived to serve, not to be served.”
With certainty, Jesus does not imply that we should not serve Him. He does strongly imply that serving Him plays out in serving others because we represent Him. Within the context of leading, of representing the Leader to other, Jesus expects a posture of serving. Without emptying leadership of power, authority, wisdom, strategy, assignment, or revelation, Jesus insists that leaders who represent heaven have a heavenly mindset toward those they lead.
Jesus resets the kingdom mentality of leadership away from entitled leaders to avoid entitlement as a mentality of the kingdom. He leaves no room for the politics of envy in kingdom leadership dynamics. To be great, you serve. To be first, you become a slave in order to reach the front of the line. After all, Messiah, the King, has not arrived to be served, but to serve, and to lay down His life for many.
In kingdom leadership, we measure success with different criteria from those exhibited in awards shows and trophy presentations. Not that conferring kingdom rewards or awards has been removed from the calendar. The awards presented within the kingdom, however, speak to the purposes of the kingdom, not the celebration of competition, contrast, or contention.
Good Samaritan Response
The Good Samaritan story answers the question, Who is my neighbor? Jesus illustrates how the use of religious thinking voids love by its controlled response. Since loving God and others sums up – note that it does not diminish or destroy – the Law and Prophets because they hang upon loving God and others, Jesus tells them a story that offends their rationale for limiting love to their definitions of “all” and “neighbor.”
The Samaritan in the story loves a man that the highest of Jewish culture’s leaders dismiss from their list of responsibility. (Responsibility being based upon the word “response.”) A man broken by thieves, vulnerable, penniless, unable to help himself, receives a dramatic response of selfless love from a person with whom he strains to avoid contact and companionship. “A Samaritan! The Jews have no dealings with Samaritans!”
This is a formula of avoidance. Love my neighbor as myself? No problem if I’m the one that defines the term “neighbor” and “love.” Jesus comments upon this and other traditions through which the religious system has negated God’s Law and provide rationale for killing God’s prophets. To avoid the “love my neighbor” part, they first needed to alter the “love God with All” part. Religion uses definitions to design, so it redefines in order to redesign.
Pretty soon it sounds reasonable to say, “God would never ask me to do that.”
Moving away from “love God with All,” we enter into a desert land of entitlement and avoidance of responsibility. We stop responding from the same motivations we experience loving God with All.
Peter says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
The entire basis for power, authority, favor, and leadership involves releasing what you have received and doing so without complaint. Doing so without complaint speaks to the attitude of giving and serving: “I do not do this out of obligation, to fulfill a check list for approval, or to gain an identity of martyrdom” – all selfish motives.
God does not help people because He is obligated. People cannot do anything to move God into a place of obligation. “God under obligation” answers to witchcraft and animism, not kingdom. God is Sovereign, a King motivated in His rule by love, not selfishness.
Certainly, God obligates Himself to His promises, but God is not obligated to His promises by human need or demand. God is obligated to His promises because He obligated Himself to that response by promising in the first place.
God promises, so God has strategy. God’s strategy to fulfill promises plays out through covenant relationships. God cuts covenant with people in order to release loving strategies that fulfill His promises. God prepares and positions people to represent Him in fulfilling His promises.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” How and why?
God puts something in you so He can release something through you.
God’s focus in you includes God focus though you. God remains focused upon others. The process through which you represent Him to others works to fulfill His promises to you. The fulfillment of His promises in you produce opportunity for Him to represent His promises to other through you.
So, the first and second great commandments fulfill Law and Prophets.
Take care to avoid the nearly universal phrasing of this truth that ignores “and prophets” part of the equation.
The common discussion point of law vs whatever skips over the “and prophets” part, and the result speaks back to the misguided fault points in the exaggeration of grace. That is, love God with All and love others as self speak to expectations God has that are revealed both in principles and promises.
No one understand law at all who fails to see law as expectation in the same way God creates anticipation through prophetic revelation. Therefore, no one who ignores these aspects of law and prophets come to misunderstand love, or at least redefine love in ways that miss the mark of fulfilling law and prophets.
In this way, we may misrepresent God to others and frustrate His clear strategy of fulfilling His loving promises through us.
Popular discussions of grace and love now circulating offer a uniquely different approach to love and grace from those God provides and enjoins. The representation of God in these sentiments and the subsequent implementation of their uniquely different conclusions produces a way of doing things that contradicts Scripture in many ways. Any attempt to define love and grace in ways that diminish law and prophets would be exactly the opposite of God’s intentions to fulfill law and prophets through love and grace.
We can be completely certain that God now represents Himself in Jesus Christ. We can be equally certain the Jesus represents Himself as King of a kingdom by building His Ecclesia within His kingdom. We can be certain, then, that the Ecclesia – His building, body, and bride – represents Him in the earth here and now. We can certain that what we do now representing Him in the earth prepares and positions us to represent Him with the future ultimates of kingdom.
He prepares and positions us to represent now to learn, mature, and develop as kingdom leaders in anticipation of representing with Him when the days of ultimate kingdom are revealed.
Therefore, to represent Jesus Christ properly, we must respond to His preparation and positioning, to represent Him when and where that strategic plan makes us His face, hands, feet, and voice. We must represent Jesus in our prayers and petitions. We must represent Jesus Christ in our relationships. We must represent Jesus in our ministry serving so that the whole of His strategy is available to others. We can never properly focus upon ourselves as an end point or end game and live up to our destined purposes.
Ambassador for Jesus
“Paul says he is Christ’s ambassador. On two occasions, the apostle speaks of His Message and ministry with this term to validate and define his role as an apostolic leader. Paul represents Christ, carrying His Message, in an ambassadorial sense.
“And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly declare the mystery of the Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am still preaching this message as God’s ambassador in chains. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.” [Ephesians 6:19-20] Here the reference to “ambassador may be more “representative” who delivers a message.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20, however, the term, presbeuo, means “ambassador, representative, negotiator, messenger” in an official capacity as if the ministry he has is “an embassy.” That ministry is “the ministry of reconciliation.” Paul represents Jesus in this special role and function because of the Message he preaches and the leadership he provides in the formation of a kingdom culture based upon that Message. Paul represents Jesus.
The term, “presbeuo,” closely resembles the word for “elder,” of course, and also means “older, experienced, expert,” but this term has a special meaning different from the term for “elder.” Ambassadorial function carries the authority to negotiate treaties and agreements within the limitations set by the one who has sent the ambassador. The ambassador’s scope of authority equals his scope of assignment.
Beware the false equalization of all believers that would say, “Anything Paul is and does, I am and do.” Such a premise actually empties kingdom leadership of its original design and function. We are not all equal in gift, authority, function, or assignment. Nothing could be more clear in the Bible. The ambassadorial role given to Paul had some unique features different from other apostles of his day. This doesn’t negate the existence of apostles in modern times, but it does clarify the special role of “ambassador” in Paul’s ministry as an originator of the “ministry of reconciliation.”
However, Paul discussion does speak to a valid fundamental of kingdom reality, that the kingdom on earth represents the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom leaders represent Jesus in the earth. That kingdom citizens make up an earthly expression of the heavenly rule of God and represent His heavenly kingdom as an earthly expression of God’s rule.
The kingdom has principles and protocols through which its effectively and efficiently operates to make every member a part of representing Jesus. These principles and protocols govern the methods and message of the kingdom so that Jesus is properly represented in message, authority, power, judgment, and initiatives that seek to bring reconciliation between God and individuals alienated from God.
Paul also makes it abundantly clear that the ambassadorial function of an apostolic ministry with all its fuller applications represents Christ to the world for the purpose of applying His atonement in the ministry of reconciliation. So, an apostolic ministry should have an apostolic message and ministry that reconciles alienated people to Jesus! We train people to both preach, live, manifest, apply, and implement that message and method.