“You’ve got to go down, to come up.”
Joyce and I had two sleeping kids in the double buggy we pushed, piled high with changing bags and toys. Taking the buggy up the stairs was impossible and there was not a ground floor entrance in to the university building.
“You mean there’s no wheel chair access or ramp at this level that we can use,” I asked.
“You’ve got to go down, to come up,” the student said. “Here, I’ll show you.”
The student led the way while Joyce and I looked at each other flabbergasted. All we wanted to do was get inside out of the cold and drizzle.
The student took us down a ramp into the basement and led us to a service lift.
“Here it is. Use this lift and it’ll take you up to the 1st floor.”
The student squeezed in with us and the buggy. Evidently he wanted to go up too.
He pressed the button.
The student did not know it, but he had just defined a very important spiritual law of Christian progress.
Jesus describes this law in Matthew 20.25 – 28, NLT.
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus defines this spiritual law by drawing a comparison between worldly leadership and Christian leadership. He then uses himself as an example to give a demonstration of this spiritual law in practice. Within God’s Kingdom this is the way things work. As the student said, “You’ve got to go down, to come up.”
We may make the mistake of thinking that these verses are only applicable to those in leadership. However, they are applicable to every area of life and therefore relevant to everyone. Jesus is tackling deep-seated human desires that impacts our progression towards our goals and ambitions. He is addressing our relationship motives and how we interact with others. He is asking us why we do the things we do in order to progress in life.
Moses did not know the spiritual law
This makes me think of Moses. Acts 7.20 – 29 (NLT) tells his story.
“At that time Moses was born—a beautiful child in God’s eyes. His parents cared for him at home for three months. When they had to abandon him, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son. Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action.
“One day when Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel. He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite. So Moses came to the man’s defense and avenged him, killing the Egyptian. Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t.
“The next day he visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to be a peacemaker. ‘Men,’ he said, ‘you are brothers. Why are you fighting each other?’
“But the man in the wrong pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. ‘Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’
When Moses heard that, he fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian…”
There are some things we can learn from Moses’ life in this passage.
Moses was taught in all the wisdom of the Egyptians
He was well-educated and well-informed. Moses watched the Discovery Channel and read books on history. He was a disciple of the latest self-help gurus and motivational speakers. Moses attended every event and read all the self-help and success books. He knew the five-points to healthy relationships, and he was well-informed about every area of life. During discussions with family, friends, or colleagues, he knew more than them, so what they had to offer the conversation fell on deaf ears. Moses was taught in all the wisdom that the generation he was living in had to offer.
Moses was powerful in both speech and action
He was a gifted communicator. When he gave his opinion at work, during a bible study, or at the family dinner table, people listened. He had a silver-tongue and he knew how to work the audience. His body language and charisma oozed through his limbs and wowed his listeners. He talked the talk and he also walked the walk. He was powerful in both speech and action. When he acted, it was with passion and conviction. He was not double-minded. Not once did he waver in his decision when looking through a restaurant menu. He knew what he wanted, he knew what he had to do, and he did it with conviction. Others said, “Wow, this guy has it all together. His life is on the way up. I wish I could be like him.”
Moses knew God’s calling was on his life
Moses knew God’s call was over his life to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Acts 7.35). He took great pride in this. He knew he had the skills, experience, and knowledge to fulfill God’s call on his life. Anything he was unsure about there was a world of knowledge at his disposal. All Moses had to do was wait for the opportunity to come along and grasp it. If no opportunity arose, he would simply create it and make it happen. To the envy of his friends and onlookers, he was a man with a vision and a plan.
Moses could be any one of us.
I may have used a little poetic license, but give or take a little and Moses could be any one of us. We are part of the information and digital age. All the wisdom the world has to offer is at our fingertips. In this day and age any person in society has the potential to make a powerful contribution to humanity.
Like Moses, we know we all have a calling in God’s Kingdom that only we can fill. Whether it is as father, mother, spouse, pastor, or evangelist, etc. Each one of us has a calling from God and a role in Christ’s body. But are we trying to fulfill our calling in the wrong way?
Moses tried to force his calling
Moses knew he had a calling to free the Israelites forty years before God actually told him to free them. Yet, this distinction between knowing God’s call and God commanding him to go and do it, never occurred to him. This meant he went the wrong way about fulfilling his calling. Moses was using force and exerting his strength over others to get to where he believed God was calling him. To fulfill his calling Moses drew from the worldly principles his generation taught him. This wisdom said that the way up, is up. He could not see anything outside of that scope of thinking. He did not consider that the way up, might be down
How does this affect me?
Like Moses, there is always a temptation to exert our energies into making our calling happen or work. We may try to energize a group of people around about us so that they see us as something special. Or try to surf the wave of a successful colleague to make ourselves known to the management at work. We may emotionally overpower our family and force them to acknowledge our place as wife, father, or sibling, and give us the place our calling deserves. We may go to every church service, be loquacious and tell of all our spiritual experiences, so that the church leadership know of the calling God has given us. There are many ways we can force our calling.
In many ways it is easy to get like that. We see nothing else but our purpose and drive towards fulfilling it. However, I do not think many people have forced their calling so hard that they have killed someone in the process. That is what Moses did. Therefore, it is important that we reassess our calling, our motives, and our actions, in light of what we have learned from Moses’ life. Are we trying to reach our full potential by ascending the ladder, or are we following the spiritual law of Christian progress and going down that we may come up? As the student said, “You’ve got to go down, to come up.”
In part two of this blog we will continue to look at Moses’ life. We will see how much damage not following this spiritual law of Christian progress can cause.