As much as we like our shoes, we need to occasionally step into the shoes of others, or at least try them on. When we walk in each other's shoes and try to understand and empathize with each other, our capacity to love expands. We become more patient, more kind, gentler, less judgmental, and less cynical. In this series, we're going to be putting ourselves in the shoes of different people who encountered Jesus.
Think of someone you respect and share one reason you value that person.
Today we're going to walk in the boots of a hard-working, blue-collar kind of guy. He's a tough, military guy who understood real authority. The Bible is clear on the appropriate response we are to have to those in authority over us. Unless it is contrary to how God has told us to live, we are to submit to those in authority.
Have someone read Ephesians 5:21.
The original word for 'submit' came from the military world, and it means to voluntarily place yourself under someone or something.
Have you ever been in a situation, either at work or in your personal relationships, where you had to submit, and it was a struggle? How did you overcome it?
Typically, we view authority as something that allows a leader to demand accountability. The leader then gives affirmation if a job is done well, and ultimately the leader accepts the person based on their performance.
Jesus’ leadership style flips that on its head. He accepted people because they were children of God, created in His image. He affirmed them, and then called them to be accountable as a result of their being accepted and affirmed.
Jesus' kingdom is an inside out, upside down, counter-cultural kind of life. He modeled the humility and surrender that go hand in hand with true authority. Real authority is not so much about your position, as it is your disposition and the way you treat people.
Have someone read Luke 7:1-10
A centurion was a Roman military officer who was responsible for the command of 100 soldiers, someone akin to a captain in the US Army. He would have worked his way up through the ranks of the highly structured Roman world.
Jewish elders came to Jesus asking on behalf of the centurion for Jesus to come and heal the centurion’s servant. This was a bit astonishing because the people of Palestine hated Roman occupation and Roman soldiers were notorious for powering up on people and flaunting their authority.
But this centurion was a good man. He treated the Jews well—even building a synagogue for them, and he cared for his servant in a culture that viewed servants as slaves a property. He valued his servant as a person when others did not, and he doesn’t let his position go to his head, even telling Jesus that he is not worthy to have Jesus enter his house.
Even though the centurion says he is not worthy, he still presents his request to Jesus and trusts that Jesus can and will act. We can do the same thing if we are willing to be humble and believe.
What is something in your life you need to pray with faith for God to intervene?
It says in verses 9 and 10 that Jesus was amazed. He was amazed at this soldier’s abundance of faith.
Philip Yancey writes in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, “Jesus never met a disease he couldn’t cure, a birth defect he could not reverse, a demon he could not exorcise. But he did meet skeptics he could not convince and sinners he could not convert.”
In what areas do you struggle to believe that God can and will act? Why is this area such a struggle for you?
Have someone read 1 Samuel 16:7.
We convince ourselves that we have to do good things to be amazing, but it is our heart that really matters. Jesus is not as impressed with titles, degrees, and achievements as we are. He is impressed with those who humbly trust him.
Share a time in your life when have you felt the need to do something to deserve Jesus's attention, instead of relying solely on faith.
Humility and surrender are common threads in each of the stories we have studied in this series. John the Baptist and the Samaritan woman both recognized Jesus real authority. Many people witnessed Jesus performing miracles and still walked away. They wanted to call their own shots and were not willing to humble themselves and surrender to someone else's leadership.
When we focus on ourselves it is impossible to be humble. That focus will only lead to self-destruction and being selfish. The key to a faith filled life and a better story is humility, surrendering to God's authority. Surrender opens our hearts to the work of God in us. It allows Him the freedom to direct and correct our lives.
The greatness of a person is in direct proportion to their measure of surrender.
When you consider the realities of your day to day life, rate how surrendered you are to Jesus on a scale from one (not at all surrendered) to five (fully surrendered). What would it take for you to move one step closer to fully surrendered?
This week commit to praying the prayer Mike shared each day this week:
Lord, I'm here again, I'll follow you each moment today as You give me grace. I'm not making any big time, dramatic commitments today. I'm just going to surrender my day and trust You with my life every step of the way, today. I will be sensitive to your Holy Spirit as He leads me to do the right thing. I will hide your Word in my heart so that it can speak to me right in the middle of tough decisions. I will listen well. I will rely on your strength, your peace, and your grace and once again, Jesus, I place myself under your loving authority today.