“He leads from behind,” they charge, and they don’t mean it as a compliment.
Recently I reviewed a book here called Alone with a Jihadist, in which the author posited rather convincingly that the attempt by the evangelical religious right to secure political power in order to further the aims of their version of God’s will, was unbiblical and certainly anti-Jesus.
Jesus, certainly in the passage from Mark, and generally throughout the Gospels, presents a picture of leadership that is not directed at power and authority. Jesus seeks no power much to the chagrin occasionally of his followers. He seeks no authority over others, and certainly not over his enemies of the day.
He seeks to serve. And he teaches service.
To lead from behind is in a sense very Jesus-like. Such an idea of course would drive the religious right insane at the mere thought because they have decided to believe and push the idea that the President is the antithesis of a Godly man. Many argue that he is in the arms of Satan himself, and is in the process destroying all that is Godly about America.
But Jesus led from behind. What I mean by that is that Jesus taught that the essence of love of God was service to God’s children. And the essence of service is empowerment. It is helping others to help themselves by raising up their value and abilities to equality with those around them. When Jesus cures and forgives, he do so to return people to their rightful place as equals within their society. He empowers them to take their place in the world with their heads up once again.
He does not empower them in the sense that he gives them tools to rule over others. That is not what the Kingdom of God is about. He gives them the tools by his example, that they are to express to everyone they meet from that day forward. The Kingdom has nothing to do with power exerted OVER people, but rather it lifts people up to be fully functioning people of God.
Similarly, Aaron Taylor, when he suggests that it is not the place of a true Christian to seize political power for the purpose of bringing into existence some man-made government in their image of God, he is merely restating what Jesus announced to poor John and James when they asked Jesus to recognize their importance in the coming Kingdom. Jesus said, no, this is not what my Kingdom is about. You will suffer for my sake, but your reward is not honor and power over others, but the continuing opportunity to serve all those in need.
One can argue whether Jesus intended to set up a new church and if John and James and the rest of the disciples were being instructed on how that church was to be organized. I personally don’t believe, based on my examination of the literature regarding this issue, that Jesus had any such intention to set up a new church. He was and remained a Jew in the Jewish faith until his death. What he wished to do, was to bring Judaism back to its true focus, and that was the one he preached to everyone who would listen.
But he certainly was aware that those he left behind had a message to continue to share, and he made sure that his followers understood his teaching in all its revolutionary significance. You lead by serving.
Where will you sit?
- Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (doohan.id.au)