It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. This verse from Galatians combined with Christ being our apostle is a great place to start this theme. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ led us from an Old Testament law-based culture to the New Testament culture of freedom. The external became replaced by the internal and the assignment turned from Israel to the rest of humanity.
To empower one needs something to give away. That something is power. It is impossible to empower someone unless you have something to give them.
An apostolic ‘move’ of God is inseparable from empowerment. The very nature of the word apostolic – meaning to send – implies setting free, sending, empowering, trusting, and believing in someone.
A pastoral culture focussed more on gathering than sending tends to create more controls. An illustration drawn from the life of Jesus is that he created a culture where they argued about who was the greatest, and also allowed a Judas to be raised up. Jesus empowered to such an extent that these were the outcome. For fear of repeating the same and raising another Judas, it seems that the Church has been afraid of empowering to that extent. Yet in not doing so, while we may have avoided another Judas we have not been as successful in raising world changers.
The apostolic is a giving and sending culture. It gives away power which may come in many forms. It is the example of a family where we see the ‘giving’ of a daughter in marriage. This is not the evidence of control but of freedom. It is a statement of permission to go and reproduce this family outside of the walls in which you have grown up. Family is from the very beginning apostolic in nature – empowering, sending, releasing, and reproducing.
I love the story of Moses and in particular his prayer for the people of Israel as they were getting close to entering the promised land. This was the land that Moses would not enter himself despite a lifetime journey of taking the people to the very edge. Moses’ prayer was an empowering prayer, a giving and sending declaration. “Go in”, he said, “take the land, and may heaven rain down dew on you and may your enemies fall before you.” He empowered from his heart a people to go where he couldn’t go.
To empower we must all have something to give and it starts with our hearts. There may be resources and actions which go with it, but to empower it will always be a heart attitude first. It is also a two-way act. I love Bill Johnson’s statement that he will not embrace someone’s vision (in the context of his ministry) until he has seen that they have embraced his. This is the heart of a father, looking for the heart of sons and daughters and once that step is taken the empowering really begins.
I want to challenge you to ask what you have to give away. Are there restrictions in your heart or are you believing with Jesus that the ones that come after you will see the greater works? If you do, what do you need to give them to allow them to move forward in that journey?