Jesus told His disciples, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:38. This seems to come from Proverbs 10:11, 18:4, and others that predict a flow of life and wisdom from those God will bless. I take this to mean at least one thing – That whoever those people are, others will notice that the effect of being around them is to come away richer, more alive and refreshed than they were. These are people who give away life – who give away power to others. I think Jesus was the picture of this dynamic, and the “first of many bretheren” who would be known for it.
When I look at leadership in the church today, I don’t see this picture so much. I see church staff battling for limited resources, church boards that don’t ever expect to pay a living wage to employees, and pastors that can’t ever afford to hand off leadership roles for fear of not fulfilling their job descriptions. The flow of real life and power to people seems to be at best incidental to the management and glimmer of programs. Investment in discipleship is difficult to find. I notice Jesus giving away things:
- His authority – to seventy guys whose names are still a mystery;
- His Dignity – to twelve who wouldn’t have thought to wash His feet, let alone theirs;
- His Keys to the Kingdom – to guys who argued about who was the greatest;
- His Church – to those who had denied and abandoned Him at His death.
When I look at how Jesus entrusted the treasures of His Kingdom to these people, my excuses for holding on to these things make me ashamed – I wonder who I am to think I am handling what I have been given better than one of the least of those who are like Jesus’ disciples. I think that if I am going to be one who has this “River of Life” coming from him, I need to learn to release power to others, like Jesus did in His vulnerability, His reckless trust, and always undeserved radical grace toward others. May we sit at the Rabbi’s feet for this. Amen