We seek thrones to rule from. Jesus is looking for feet to wash.
Extremely important moments in the life of Jesus happened on high places. The second temptation. Quality time with his disciples. Teaching to big crowds.
Transfiguration. Prayer. Crucifixion.
And in 1975, two great Christian leaders developed a world-changing action plan. Their mandate: Bring Godly change to a nation by reaching its seven spheres, or mountains, of societal influence. A.K.A. Going up to all the high places.
They concluded that in order to truly remodel any nation with the Good News, these seven facets of society must be reached: Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment and Business.
The mandate was good.
And many other speakers and pastors have expanded on its message and invitation.
I love it in theory. But unfortunately, I have learned to dislike it in practice.
The main points of the message have become an excuse to desire domination, control, power, rule. It is now more about climbing the mountain than about serving those already on it.
It sells like a strategy for transformation but it attracts Christians who want the top more than those who want change.
And I myself at fault.
Read More On My Ambition-Hunger.
I wanted a place of influence because I assumed to be superior. Like somehow “Christ in me” signifies, “I’m better than them.” And over and over again, I caught myself making sure I got a selfie with anyone who seemed important while ignoring the people who Jesus called me to love.
I know for a fact that those who teach about the 7 mountains of influence have a legitimate desire to reach the world with the love of God. The problem is people like me… people who need to be reminded over and over again that our faith is about humility not power, love not rightness, service not law.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
This quote is from Philippians two. And the example of Jesus in the text is quite literally backwards. According to Paul, Jesus left the highest place in order to be among the lowest people. He undressed himself of privilege and took on the form of humility. His garment was the flesh of humanity and his name tag read, servant.
Ultimately, it was the Father who exalted the name of Jesus.
And if we humble ourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, He will lift us up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)
Now, let me give you another verse to support the outrageous claim that Jesus wants us climbing down the seven mountains.
This one is in Matthew 23:8-12.
And this is Jesus Christ talking; King of Kings and Lord of Lords: But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father–the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
So what are we doing?
And this is an honest (loaded) question.
Why are we teaching people so much about dominion and leadership and influence? How come we spend so much money on books and seminars and conference to be better at it?
Obviously, having influence is important. Being a good leader matters incredibly. It is a New Testament concept with godly examples like Peter, James and Mary and Paul.
But the Word of God in the flesh never asked us to rise above. His invitation was not to rule over mountains but to master feet-washing.
The Christ (who is the head of the Christian Church) is still asking us to recognize that the way up…
That the way forward, is back. And that the Kingdom of God is found while we are not building our own.
Every time his own disciples talked about thrones and position, Jesus re-directed those desires towards feet, dirt, brokenness and sacrificial love.
Yes, this is the formula of success in Heaven and it’s the opposite of the formula for success on earth. Of course, I believe that we need Jesus-followers in every corner of society. Every mountain of influence demands those who humbly re-present Christ to the world. The problem is not the teaching… it’s what we do with it.
If we’re going to go up any mountain… let it be to sit at the feet of Jesus and re-discover the Sermon on the Mount.
I’ve noticed that the truly great men and women of this world are the ones that move from the burden of, “this is good for me” to the pleasure of, “this will be good for them.” Because serving those who should-be-serving-you is quite possibly the most authentic pronouncement of Christianity there is. It puts flesh to the Christ who came down from His throne to be a servant of all. And this Christ is still saying,
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
We agree with you Lord.
It shall not be so.