The Power of Downward Influence
I once visited a pastor who had sawed the legs off the visitor’s chair in his study. He said that intimidated those who sat there, made them feel small, peering over the edge of the desk like insignificant children. This same man told me that when he met a business leader for lunch, he was always a bit late. His reasoning was that the less important person always waits for the greater. What folly! What prideful, manipulative, silly games! Is it any wonder that later some of those businessmen over which he had towered and whom he had made to wait voted him out in a major church revolt?
Jesus cared cared more for his influence upon the few closest at hand than for His image among the masses. The life of the leader, his character, and his servant spirit will do much to influence his closest associates. Here is the rule: The closer to the area of immediate impact, the greater the influence. A preacher may, even from so great a distance, have some small influence upon the bloke in the back row. His longtime associate, his secretary, and his kids know the real man, and upon their lives and souls he writes the story of his own character.
After the cross, after all their betrayals and denials and disappointments, the apostles became what they became in great part because of the influence of Jesus. As they walked in wisdom and grew in grace, surely, upon occasion, they saw Christ in each other. In the way one or the other would turn a phrase while preaching or pray aloud or even work a miracle, the others would surely smile at each other knowingly: “That looked just like Jesus.” “Your voice just then reminded me so of Him.” “That is exactly the way He used to do it.”
What they were, the giants they became, how they lived, and how they died were reflections of Jesus’ power. His influence upon them as well as His spirit within them was the power by which they turned the world upside down.
Not one of the apostles was ever a king or a prince or a president. None ever held any office or ruled a country or ran a company. Yet they lived their lives in power, His power. They served and gave and submitted themselves to God and humanity even as they had seen Him do. Theirs was never the power of the present age, but the timeless, mysterious, eternal power of the suffering servant
When they died -- some by the sword, some in the fire, and one on a cross -- they were not powerless victims. They were more than conquerors.
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