In this series, Quantum Leaps of Faith for the New Year, I am introducing 5 norm-breaking leaps of faith that Jesus invites you to take. If you accept the invitation, it will move you from discipleship to apostleship; from being a mere follower of Jesus to an inspired leader like Jesus. No quantum leap of faith is quite like leap #2: Be Empowered Like Jesus. This leap of faith invites you to humbly accept Jesus’ power and to use it. The prospect is both daunting and thrilling, seemingly heretical and deeply biblical.
I find it interesting that while Christianity centralizes authority—for instance, only the properly ordained may consecrate bread and cup and only the highly vetted may lead—Jesus himself shared his own authority generously, even carelessly, with his unskilled followers. From Peter to Judas, and dozens of other unnamed followers, Jesus invests in each and every one—sharing his knowledge, power and authority with them. While the church insists on centralizing authority; Jesus insists on giving it away. Before Jesus even really knows these fellows well—at least from what we can tell in the Gospels—he calls 12 guys to be both disciples or followers; and apostles or agents of his. That means he’s going to teach them everything he knows about manifesting the Kingdom including healing people and casting out demons. Then he’s going to send them out, invested with his authority, to do these very things. Mark 3:13-19 spells it out:
“And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter);James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder);Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot,and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
That was then, you say, this is now. It’s no different today. Jesus’ power is there for you. He insists on freely giving it away; he has to. Otherwise, his vision of the Kingdom cannot continue to become reality. Just like a carpenter would never expect you to build a house without a hammer, nails, a drill, sheetrock and the like, Jesus doesn’t expect you to manifest the kingdom without his power.
Here’s the scoop, friend. Jesus is calling you, yes you, to be empowered like him. He wants to invest in you, authorize you, and send you out to manifest the kingdom—to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to generally live an incredibly abundant and empowered life. The good news is that you don’t have to do it perfectly, or even under your own steam. With Jesus’ empowerment comes equipping. Here are three spiritual tools you’ll need to be a miracle-making wonder of grace and empowerment: being a YES in life, accepting authority, and following divine promptings.
Let’s take a closer look at each tool.
- Be a YES. Jesus won’t force you to accept abundance, or power, or the next assignment. You always have the right of refusal. Jesus won’t force his will or his blessings on anyone. But make no mistake—you can go through your whole life and ministry refusing the power and agency of Jesus, while pretending you are saying yes. “Sure, Jesus,” you say, “I want to follow you. But, please don’t ask me to do or say or receive or preach that. ” (Fill in the blank.) Saying “no” leads to maddening frustration, self-victimization, and burn out. Saying yes leads to thrilling unknowns, and a life of blessing and abundance. You get to choose.
- Accept authority. Like most folks, you are probably highly skilled at de-authorizing your own thoughts, belief, and knowledge. How many times have I clamped down on myself, thinking: “I can’t do/say that; I’ll look like a fool!” Accepting authority means accepting the inner freedom and power and guidance to know what you know, believe what you believe, say what you are led to say, and do what you are prompted to do. If you have spent any time at all developing a relationship with God through prayer, meditation, scripture reading, journaling, stepwork or practicing spiritual disciplines, then accepting authority is doing what comes next. Accepting authority doesn’t necessarily imply getting ordained or holding a certain position. It simply means learning to trust your inner wisdom and to discern divine promptings within.
- Follow the Promptings. Some years ago, I was studying the spiritual discipline of the laying on of hands and prayer. Ethelmae came through the line after worship one Sunday and told me about an aching tooth. I felt the Spirit prompt me: Put your hands on her and pray! “What?” I protested silently, “Right here in the greeting line? There are a bunch of people behind her. I’ll look like a fool!” “It’s okay,” the sure and steady voice prompted me. “Do it.” My elbows locked in at my side, I half-heartedly raised my hands up. Yes, it was as awkward as it sounds. I finally gave up pretending I wasn’t laying hands on her, released my elbows from my sides, and let my hand float up to her jaw, while asking, “Is it okay if I touch you here and pray for you?” “Yes,” she said, expecting no less from her pastor. She closed her eyes as I prayed. “Gracious God, please heal Ethelmae, and bring wholeness to her body. Amen.” She thanked me and moved on. Later she told me that she felt a pop when I prayed, and the pain went away; she was healed.
Your place in the kingdom may be hands on healing, or it may be casting out demons of sexism or racism. Whatever your divine calling, the basic tools are the same. As you use these 3 tools, you will experience a shift in consciousness. You will come to know yourself as an apostle—an empowered agent living out your divine calling. You will surrender the idea that you’re not good enough, perfect enough, or whatever enough for this Power to work through you. Instead, you will become willing to say yes to the promptings. You will release the belief that only Jesus has the ability to make miracles happen, and embrace the power he longs for you to exercise. You will stop sitting on the sidelines of life, wishing things were different. Or you’ll stop trying run life by yourself. Instead, you will know a new sense of belonging and purpose. You will be a conduit of blessing, an apostle of hope.
Being Empowered Like Jesus is good preparation for the 3rd quantum of leap of faith: Be Accountable Like Jesus. Watch for it next week.