Assimilating My Worldview with New Life in Christ

bill-hull.png

I was not religious but the Christian message attracted me because I was interested in meaning. I accepted a basketball scholarship to Oral Roberts University partly because of a friend of mine who had preceded me to ORU. He was a changed man and I knew why—religion. He was the biggest "hell-raiser" I knew, and I was stunned that he had taken the plunge. At the time, I was trying to make sense of my life and thought that I might be able to figure things out if I went to a Christian college.

However, if I were to attend a Christian school, it would need to have a really good basketball team. The college and students at ORU impressed me favorably, and I came to a critical decision: "I think I could become one of them."

Before I came to Christ, my worldview was centered on accomplishing my goals and making my life work. Now I was coming up against a worldview that said I needed to live by faith and give my dreams and goals to God. I kept hearing phrases like "We can't do anything on our own" and "Lord, I did nothing; it was all your doing." Christians seemed to look down on good works, almost as though they were some lower form of existence.

This confused me.

The worldview of the Christians around me seemed quite different from my own. Suddenly I was up against a theology of passivity. How could I blend my worldview of the need for hard work and discipline with a life of faith, grace, submission, and sacrifice? How would I get anything accomplished in such an environment? If I knew anything, it was that I had worked my way out of being a docile loser into a confident winner. When I saw a problem, I figured out a way to solve it. To make things worse, I was a good salesman; I knew how to get people to do things. I started to reflect on what made Jesus such an effective leader and on what I could learn from him about what a Christian leader's worldview should be.

The Bonhoeffer Project's main goal is to get those who want to be disciple-making leaders into a "cohort," which is a year-long leadership development community. Learn more and apply here.

Jesus famously said, "My kingdom is not of this world."[2] Some of the most chilling words in all of Scripture are found in the interchange between Pilate, Jesus, and the crowds. After Pilate found no fault with Jesus, he attempted to free him, but the crowds would have none of it; they cried out, "Crucify him! Crucify him." Pilate finally was exasperated with Jesus and asked: "'Where are you from? ... Why don't you talk to me? ... Don't you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?' Then Jesus said, You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above.'"[3]

Jesus' knew that everything that happened in this world was orchestrated from another world, and so he submitted his will to the Father in everything he did. Paul wrote: "Though he was God, he did not think equality with God as something to cling to."[4]

It seems obvious, doesn't it, that a significant lesson in Christian leadership is to turn your eyes heavenward and talk to your leader about what you should be doing. This world is not the source of God's kingdom, and to get God's kingdom or rule on earth, Christian leaders must begin in heaven. We are not to look inward at our own capacity, but heavenward, to how God wants to use our abilities.

As the God-man, Jesus had perfect human capacity to accomplish everything he did in his own power, and yet he accomplished his mission by working in concert with the larger agenda found in the triune relationship. Jesus teaches us by example that our worldview needs to be rooted in our connection to the Father.

Jesus recognized that the hour had come for his death and resurrection, meaning that his mission on earth was almost complete. In the only detailed conversation we have between him and the Father, he said, "Bring me into the glory we shared before the world began."[5] The understanding that there is a place, a state outside of time, where God dwelled before the earth or solar system existed is essential to carrying out any sacrificial mission. Jesus wanted to return to this existence, and he wanted his followers to experience it as well. And according to the moral imperative set by God, he had to die in order for that to happen. He told his Father in the hearing of Peter, James, and John: "You have given him authority over everyone.... He [meaning himself] gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth."[6]

Jesus later gave his disciples this authority in what is called the Great Commission.[7] He authorized them to do what he had already done—make disciples. When it comes down to the essence of our lives on this earth, it is to be disciples. And when it comes to the primary focus of our work, it is to make disciples. This is the only work that every Christ follower has been authorized to do. Jesus simply passed on to his followers the task that the Father had given to him.

At the end of the conversation, Jesus declared to his Father, "I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."[8] What could be more satisfying to the Christian leader than to please the Father and complete the work he has given you? Jesus' worldview was that success is accomplishing the mission God had given him to do. This worldview is the singular motivation of Christian leadership. Christian leadership is not primarily about technique; it is about why you are in leadership, your reasons for what you do. It is also about whom you are trying to please. Jesus had to be a leader to accomplish the mission that God had given him.

Written by Bill Hull

NOTES:

  1. (In book)
  2. John 18:36, esv.
  3. John 19:8-11, emphasis added.
  4. Philippians 2:6.
  5. John 17:5.
  6. John 17:2-3.
  7. See Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8.
  8. John 17:4, emphasis added.
  9. Revelation 3:20.

Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull from which this excerpt was taken. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.