Some 40 years ago I heard a man make a comment in a message I have never forgotten and that would become a cornerstone in my growing understanding of the kingdom of God: “The most important issue in the universe is, ‘Who is in charge?’”
On a national basis, all wars are ultimately fought over this question. Who determines what we do on this piece of real estate we live on? Personally, disagreements, fights, and all conflicts occur because someone doesn’t get his way; he can’t have or do what he desires. He is not in charge.
So, is life a crap-shoot, as the evolutionist believes, with the strongest ultimately winning because of the inviolate evolutionary law that teaches the survival of the fittest?” Is the strongest, most powerful always “in charge?”
The Bible doesn’t teach evolution. What the Bible does teach is, “Who IS in charge!”
“The earth and everything on it belong to the LORD. The world and its people belong to him,” (Psalm 24:1)
“I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create evil, I am the LORD, who does all these things. My plans will never fail, I will do everything I intend to do. I have spoken, and it will be done” (Isaiah 45:6, 7; 46:10, 11).
God says He is the creator of the world and is doing exactly what He wants to do in it. He is doing all things precisely as He has planned (Colossians 1:11). This means that the world, and those creatures who live on it, will ultimately function according to His mysterious plan that we rejected at the Tree in the Garden of Eden and cannot now even understand: living comes only from dying, winning from losing, righteousness comes only from being a sinner, being first coms from being last, receiving from giving, and leading from serving.
This series of contradictions describes, precisely, the only way the kingdom of God operates, and the last one answers the question posed by the title of this blog posting: Who is in charge here? Who has the authority to determine what we do?
The above verses teach that God is totally in charge of His world, and we saw last week that that rule has been delegated to us, His created beings, whom He has redeemed and reclaimed from destruction for the express purpose of extending that rule world-wide. In the family, the church, the civil government and other informal authority structures (business, the arts, sports, etc.), God is teaching us how to rule His way—by serving. Jesus tells us in Mark 10:44, 45 that “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all (a statement of fact). For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So, Jesus, the very Son of God, demonstrated this way to live with His own life—the description of which is left in the Bible for us to study. In essence, Jesus is not saying, “If your goal is to lead, how you get there is by serving others,” as some translators render these verses. No, in verse 45, Jesus, our example as the Son of Man, tells us He did NOT come to be the leader and be served, but His determined purpose was to serve others by dying for them! The result is, incidentally, those others wanted to follow Him. The cause was serving, giving and laying down His life; the effect was spontaneously and naturally being in charge, with billions of others, over the centuries, wanting to follow Him!
In Philippians, Paul tells us what that service to others will look like in our lives: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition (wanting to lead for the glory and power) or conceit (arrogantly thinking I already know everything necessary to lead), but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….(who) made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:3, 4, 5, 7).
This means that servant leaders are other-centered, always thinking of the needs of others with whom they come in contact before their own. I was discussing these ideas with a friend yesterday and he told me that his son had that kind of relationship with the young men in his platoon in the Army, where he was a sergeant. His last name is Kruse, and they all called him “Papa Kruse.” They all knew he cared for them and they looked to him as a father-figure to them. His superior rank reflected his leadership, which they all acknowledged. What a powerful bond to multiply their effectiveness as a fighting force in battle!
We are at war in our culture every day. A huge chunk of the church is asleep and just now beginning to awaken, and many still believe the church must stay out of the battle. They do not realize we were saved specifically for the battle! Next week we will begin to look at how this servant-leadership is expressed practically in our war—our daily battle as the kingdom of God is extended through us in the family, church and civil government today.
Robert, your exhortation that the most important question in the universe is: “who is in charge?”, has had a significant impact on my and Kay’s world view and our action, over many years. Thank you for this incredible insight into God’s creation!
I am excited to read next week’s message about the practical implication of servant-leadership in the spiritual battle! (It is difficult for us sinners to live out the truth in the Philipians and Mark passages. God’s reality is so upside down from our perspective and sinfulness)