In my younger days, as I was struggling to lift a massive rock to move it 3cm, I recall my friend, Ed Strong, saying, “Don’t let the rock be smarter than you.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked. Ed got that usual big grin on his face and eased in close to me. He began to whisper in his big deep voice, “I’m going to teach you the secret to the universe.” Now I knew Ed was a Godly man but at this point I was sure he was smoking something.
“Adam, do you see this little stick and this little steel rod? Watch…” He placed the strong, small oak stick under the edge of the nearly 1 ton flat granite cap stone. He then took the small steel rod approximately 2.5 cm in diameter and wedged it under the oak stick. By leaning on the oak stick he was able to pick up the 1 ton rock ever so slightly and slide it the 3cm it had to move. He looked back at me and said, “Leverage is the secret to the universe”.
I have never forgotten that day or those words. As I look at Jesus’s life I see that this is exactly what Jesus did over and over again. He used leverage to move people into relationship with Him. This is the second key in bringing true transformation. The first, Enter Their World, is crucial to using leverage in an honouring way. If you haven’t entered the world of the other person, leverage becomes bullying. That is definitely not what Jesus was about.
Jesus leveraged relationships.
Studies show that when a person comes into a relationship with Jesus, the clock is ticking on the current relationships they have with people. Eighty five percent of all Christians sever relationships with outsiders after a year and a half. Somehow, we have bought into the lie that to follow Jesus, we have to sever relationships. Do you know nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to sever relationships with unbelievers. Interestingly, it does say in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to sever relationships with Christians who don’t act like Christians. (ouch!…).
I see this best with Matthew’s life. As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him (Matthew 9:9).
What is surprising is that Matthew is not even his real name! In Mark 2:14 we read the same story told by Mark: as he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him (Mark 2:14).
Why would Matthew use a different name? Levi is a Jewish name, which carries some significance. Levi was the tribe from whom the Levitical priests came. Levi came from a very religious household and therefore had an upbringing that was religiously rigorous. For Levi/Matthew to be a tax collector was horrific. Tax collectors were labeled the same as thieves and murderers. They stole from their own people. Therefore Levi had changed his name from the Jewish Levi to the Greek Matthew. What is truly amazing is that Jesus didn’t call him Levi. He accepted him as Matthew. Jesus also didn’t tell Matthew to leave all his thieving friends. Jesus leveraged the relationship by accepting Matthew, which in turn allowed Matthew to leverage his relationships to bring transformation to a community.
Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners (Matthew 9:10).
Jesus doesn’t ask us to sever relationships. He asks us to become disciples and leverage those relationships so that people are moving toward him, even if it is 3cm at a time. Leverage is the secret to the universe