A Thin Violence in the Desire to Influence
The way is down, friends. This way to freedom.
What does it mean to “influence?” The dictionary reads: “…the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.”
How do we look at it, at the process of influence? What’s our first visual image? Someone with charisma and someone with a little less than? Someone with a good answer and someone with a little less than? Someone with _______ and someone with a little less than?
Is it the “strong” making something happen in the “weak?”
But, friends, what is “strong?” What is “weak?”
Perhaps a misunderstanding of Philippians 4:13 has overshadowed Jesus’ “Whoever would come after me must deny themselves…”
How often I’ve seen it, a subtracting of Jesus’ “principles” from Jesus’ way and then piecemealing that pile into a path of power and influence. This mental preoccupation stabs the capacity to love, stabs it right in the thigh and yells at the one in front of them, “Get moving or I’ll do the other.”
Could it be that the desire to become an influence does not reside in the heart of perfect love? …for perfect love drives out all fear – it is gone. This love can be with the one in front of them, just be. It has no powerful answers that were cut and dried in this neighborhood, ready to be delivered to that one.
This capacity for presence is what becomes truly influential in the pattern of Jesus. The capacity to let you be but to still fully love you, change or not change, this is selfless love, this is Jesus. …a capacity for presence with those experiencing brokenness as the one who is also broken, this is the way of Jesus. No one has the answers because we are the answer. We, this body, this Christ (as we call the Church now).
The call to freedom is always present in this; we’re all mired in one disease or another. But this freedom is only available through the simple presence of being with one another. No one really has the answer or power that needs to be influenced upon the other. Presence, that is all. This is Jesus dining with the “sinners;” the men with the answers ridiculed the scene. They were men hoping to retain influence.
It’s from this presence, this being with one another that we’ll carry the cross together. You see, the way of Jesus is downward, we grow and become aware of our weakness at the same time because they are the same thing (a thought from Jesus and augmented by Jean Vanier).
Jesus says, “This way to freedom,” but we seem to go nowhere but with one another. This, I think, is the beautiful point.