Power to Fall is Power to Rise
Our desire to protect new believers and our ministries from falling is the very thing that keeps them from growing. In his book, Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, Roland Allen writes:
It is said that when God announced to the Angels His purpose to create man in His own image Lucifer, who was not yet fallen from heaven, cried, “Surely He will not give them the power to disobey Him.” And the Son answered him “Power to fall is power to rise.” Lucifer knew neither power to rise, nor power to fall, but that word, “power to fall” sunk deep into his heart, and he began to desire to know that power, and he plotted from that day forward the fall of man. He fell himself, and he taught man to know his power and to use his power to fall.
When in the fullness of time he saw the Redemption wrought by Christ, he began dimly to understand that power to fall is power to rise; but he understood it crookedly. Hence, as Christ’s disciples began to multiply, and his own kingdom to be mini shed, his mind turned instinctively again to this power to fall. If he could check, or hinder, the power to fall, he might also, he thought, check the power to rise. He began by trying to induce the Apostles to bind all the Gentile converts within the hedge of the Mosaic La, and he was foiled by the boldness of the faith of the great Apostle of the Gentiles.
But ever since he has sought to attain his end, striving to induce the servants of Christ to deprive new converts of the power to fall, by hedging them round with laws of one kind or another, in the hope that so he might deprive them of the power to rise: and men, knowing the terrors of falling, and dreading the power to fall for new converts, are only too ready to listen to him; for he plays upon their fears. (emphasis added, kindle location 274)
Any attempt to control new believers or young ministries, even if it seems for their benefit, hinders their future ability for growth. The Judaizers in the book of Acts thought they were helping the growing church by insisting they follow the Law. After all, is anything wrong with the Law? But had they succeeded they would have severely hampered the growth of Christianity.
Control is always bad, even when done to prevent people from making mistakes. It doesn’t allow people to grow to full maturity. It removes the possibility of spontaneous expansion. Control and freedom cannot coexist. Because spontaneous expansion needs freedom, control can play no part.
If we are not to try to control new converts or ministries, then what is to prevent them from falling? This is the central question, and in the answer lies a crucial distinction:
Given spontaneous zeal we can direct it by instruction. Aquila [and Priscilla] could teach Apollos the way of God more perfectly. But teaching is not control. Teaching can be refused; control cannot be refused, if it is control; teaching leads to enlargements, control to restriction. (kindle location 197)
As movement launchers and leaders our job is to come alongside people who are zealous in their faith. We can teach and direct them to become more like Christ. But we must do so without controlling them with our rules, our standards, our limitations.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn as our Destino movement was growing. It was easier at the beginning to just control things. That provided security for the moment. It helped keep our movement from being messy. In reality I was working against what I really desired: students aflame with a passion to share Christ with everyone they knew. My desire to avoid messiness insured that I’d never get a movement. I had to learn that power to fall is power to rise.
Discussion Questions: (respond in the comments below)
- How have you seen yourself try to control your movement?
- In your mind, what is the scariest part of giving up control over your movement?
- Do you think it could really work to step back and teach new believers without trying to control them? What would be the positives? What could go wrong?
photo courtesy: JerOmm