Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar. It began on February 14 until March 29 this year. My church has invited the congregation to spend this period of forty days to reflect on our faith journey, in preparation for the upcoming Easter. For me, I have taken time to study and examine the earthly life of Jesus before his crucifixion.
Pilate said, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19: 10-11). In 4 Chair Discipling, Dann Spader uses the acronym POWER to highlight the priorities and choices of Jesus’ life. POWER stands for Prayer, Obedience, Word, Exalting the Father, and Relationship. It prompts us to evaluate and realize where our source of POWER is from and how we are strengthened/refreshed in Christ.
Prayer: Jesus prayed often. He woke up early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35). For important decisions such as the selection of the twelve of his disciples to be the apostles, he prayed all night (Luke 6:12-13). It is recorded forty five times in the Gospels that Jesus prayed. Prayer was Jesus’ lifestyle, and his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). He prayed for himself, his disciples and all believers in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17). There is a saying that the shortest distance between a problem and its solution is the distance between your knees and the ground. Prayer is not the last resort but the first in gaining POWER.
Obedience: Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed that not his will but the Father’s will be done (Luke 22:42). It is said that “he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Jesus said that his food was to do the will of him who sent him and to finish his work (John 4:34). Jesus loved his father and obedience is the love language of God. When the prophet Samuel rebuked King Saul, he said that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15: 22). Samuel’s point is that a sacrifice rightly offered is a demonstration of the self-surrender of one in giving a valuable gift to God, which is not just an animal but the life of the person that is offered in faith, trust, and obedience.
Word: We do not read much about Jesus’ childhood except him staying behind in the temple after the family left Jerusalem. He was found “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46-47). Once again, it was said that Jesus went down to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them. He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2: 51-52). When one invests his time and effort in the Word of God and fellowship with God, he finds wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2: 6, 9:10). Jesus was grounded in the Word. To overcome the temptations in the desert before his ministry, Jesus replied to the tempter three times using the scripture. It is vital for Christians to grasp the source of our strength; that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4).
Exalting the Father: In Lead Like Jesus, Blanchard and Hodges use the acronym EGO to contrast two lifestyles: Exalting God Only and Edging God Out. In the paradigm of Edging God Out, one could act out of either pride or fear. Pride leads one to take credit for everything and blame others for mistakes. Fear freezes one from doing the right thing and causes one to run away from the issue. In both cases, pride and fear, its results are broken relationships, discontentment, and distortion of the truth. On the contrary, Jesus showed us another way to live, Exalting God Only. In humility and God-grounded confidence, he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13) and comforted his disciples (John 14). In facing the trial before Pilate and the cruelty of the cross, he was confident of his mission and constant in his desire to Exalt God Only (John 18-19). In the life of Jesus, Exalting God Only led to the restoration of broken relationships, contentment, and truth that is the essential message of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Relationship: Jesus accepted people from all walks of life. He not only spent time with his family and disciples, but also befriended prostitutes, tax collectors, and the outcast of society. He not only preached in synagogues and had dialogues with the Pharisees, priests and teachers of the Law, but also taught and fed thousands who followed him. He listened, he empathised, and he healed. He spent much time building relationships with his disciples. Though Peter denied of knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, Jesus reached out to Peter and reinstated him (John 21). Jesus showed us the importance of building and mending relationships which is why he came in the first place. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
POWER stands for Prayer, Obedience, Word, Exalting the Father, and Relationship. They are all equally evidential in Jesus’ life. I argue that these elements are sequential and progressive as its spelling. When one prays, he/she acknowledges God and His mighty work. Prayer can prepare our heart for obedience to His guidance and will. Then, one’s attitude is set right to intake the Word as we don’t want to become scholars but disciples. When prayer, obedience, and Word are present in our life, it is more likely that our action and decision exalt the Father instead of edging God out. We have all kinds of relationships, some good, some bad. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). When one exalts the Father, he/she cultivates loving relationships with agape.
You and I may not be powerful speakers like Martin Luther King Jr. You and I may not be powerful writers like C.S. Lewis. Yet, you and I can look into the life of Jesus and find POWER in our daily walk.
Blanchard, K., & Hodges, P. (2007). Lead Like Jesus. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
Spader, D. (2014). 4 chair discipling: Growing a movement of disciple-makers. Chicago: Moody.