I watched Son of God this past weekend and was struck by the level of resistance Jesus encountered during his public ministry. There was just something about seeing it on screen that made the conflict feel more real to me.
Jesus was misunderstood. People wanted him to be someone he wasn’t. They felt threatened by him and falsely accused him. They tried to test, trap and attack him. They challenged his authority, legitimacy, and mission. And in the end, they were more than happy to have him killed.
What they don’t teach you in seminary is that these experiences are actually par for the course in Christian leadership. Even that last one is normative in many places around the world. The way of authentic Christian leadership is the way of the cross; not as a victim but as a volunteer, done out of love for God and people.
To lead in Christ’s kingdom is to lay down your life for others and open yourself to criticism, accusation, and rejection. And if you want to stay in the game, you’ve gotta resist the temptation to become bitter when the sheep shit on you and the world laughs at you.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all bad. The movie, like the gospels, highlights many of the joyous moments of ministry. Being a leader in the kingdom of God (official title or not) can be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and meaningful endeavors imaginable.
Just remember that if Jesus faced persecution and resistance as a leader, you will too. Merry Christmas. 😉