The Clash Of “Mindsets”: Structural Versus Relational
“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or my left is not for me to grant. These places being to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’ When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whomever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Matthew 20:17-28
In Matthew Jesus has been trying teaching about the kingdom of God to his disciples when he is faced with with the question, “Is the structure of the kingdom of God like a pyramid or flat lined?” Kingdoms are lead by kings on top a pyramid structure, so the mother of the Zebedee boys and the disciples would naturally think that the kingdom of God would be run this fashion if Jesus is truly the King. In a pyramid only one can be on top, two below him, three below them, etc., so it would be natural for mamma to request her boys get the #2 & #3 slots. Jesus acknowledges her understanding that position dictates authority in “normal” kingdom structure. Even in the spirit world, the kingdom of darkness is a pyramid with Satan, who thirsts for power and authority by lording it over his demons, but that is not so in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is not structurally built like a pyramid, but linear by relationship based on friendship. That is the bottom line premise of “flat world” thinkers. Jesus is trying to show Mamma Z that “positions” in his kingdom are not based on position, power, or influence. It is all based on a relationship with Him, Jesus and on serving and being served. Jesus said, “Just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many,” so it is with his believers. Jesus paid the vertical price of the Cross by dying for us on that Cross, paying the ransom to restore the right “relationship” between God and fallen man (John 3:16); now; He is asking us, vertically, to lay down our lives for each other to restore the “relationship” between man to man, Christian brother to brother (I John 3:16). The horizontal and vertical dissections create the CROSS.
There are no “positions of authority” among the “priesthood of believers”, for you cannot “earn” your way into heaven (it is only through God’s grace) and you can not “earn” a position once in heaven, for, “these places being to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” I do not know, in the natural, what these places look like, but Jesus talks about them in John 14:1-4: “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms (places); if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there (to that place) to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” The way to that place is through Jesus who has and is preparing a place for us, and that place will be an “eternal relationship” with him! Jesus has prepared that place by fulfilling his mission on earth, coming back for his “priesthood of believers”, and “hanging out” with them for the rest of eternity. That is all relational. It is about relations, not position!
So the Church, if it truly wants revival or another reformation, must recognize the fact that the kingdom of God is relational and begin to change their mindsets and structures to reflect that. How to do that is through “service”. A pyramid church structure causes “church politics”, like with the disciples and their mamma; a flat line church structure produces relationships through service. That is why I am such a proponent of Ephesians 4, not as church “offices” which create a pyramid, but as passions, points of view, mindsets on how to vertically serve others who are different, yet gleaning from their different giftings than yours. You “serve” them in your distinct passion and point of view, and reciprocally they “serve” back to you through their distinctly different passion and point of view bringing “accountability” through “service”, sealed through a “relationship” with one another. (A theme throughout my blogs)
Mamma “B”achman: Don’t barter with Jesus about positioning your two sons in the kingdom of God, but nurture them relationally with Jesus and the body of Christ, positionally making the CROSS through relationships in their lives through service, then you won’t be like Mamma “Z”!