Monday, May 31, 2010

Francis of Assisi: Power of Simplicity

Ironically, Francis became one of the most significant reformers in the Church over the past 2000 years, pointing untold numbers to Christ. While he sought a life of simplicity, he was used in extraordinary ways. Precisely because he did not seek greatness, God placed him in a position of remarkable leadership—both during his lifetime and in the centuries that have followed. “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled,” declares Jesus in Matthew 23:12, “and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Not wanting to be in rebellion against the church, Francis and the brothers who had gathered around him went to Rome to receive official recognition of their movement by the pope, Innocent III. The most powerful pontiff ever, Innocent III was used to controlling kings around Europe and found no time for the dirty bunch of beggars who came to see him.

Francis before Innocent III

That night, however, the Lord intervened. In a dream, Innocent saw the cathedral of Rome beginning to collapse. It was suddenly upheld in one corner by a simple man wearing a brown peasants robe. Recognizing this simple man as the leader of the beggars who had tried to visit the previous day, Innocent summoned Francis and the brothers. After hearing their story, he gave them verbal approval for their little community, which was soon to mushroom into a worldwide missions movement.

Indeed, more than any lead figure during the Middle Ages, Francis helped to save the Western Church from collapsing under the weight of power-hungry leaders like Innocent himself. Restoring the focus back on Jesus, ministering to the masses and preaching the Gospel around the world, Francis is deeply appreciated by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike.

Who Do We Want to Model After?
Many American churches and Christian leaders today share a closer affiliation with the success mentality of Innocent III and his quest for power than they do with Francis and his humble service to Christ. We think that Christian leadership has to do with power, numbers and money.

How can we get back to the simplicity of serving?

2010 © Glenn E. Myers

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