Hi everyone, Rob here. One of my favourite movie heroes is Maximus from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. I love the fact that even though his role of leadership is taken away from him by Commodus’ evil plot against his father, he retained the heart of a leader. He organised his gladiator mates into a cohesive fighting force and embarrassed some of Rome’s best; even their most ferocious lions! I also love the moment when he stares down Commodus in the middle of the arena:
[Commodus enters the Colosseum arena to greet the Spaniard]
Commodus:Rise. Rise. [Maximus stands up, clenching an arrow head in his right hand and in that same moment Lucius runs to join Commodus standing in front of him] Commodus: Your fame is well deserved, Spaniard. I don’t think there’s ever been a gladiator to match you. As for this young man, he insists you are Hector reborn. Or was it Hercules? Why doesn’t the hero reveal himself and tell us all your real name? You do have a name? Maximus: My name is Gladiator. [turns away from Commodus] Commodus:How dare you show your back to me! Slave, you will remove your helmet and tell me your name. [Maximus removes his helmet and turns around to face Commodus] Maximus: My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. [Commodus is clearly in shock and without words]
Of course he is! Not only is his mortal enemy alive, the man who knows his dark secret, but this man is still possessed of the inherent authority that comes from knowing who you really are.
That is the authority that is ours in Christ Jesus. We were always born to reign over God’s creation as people made in God’s image. We were to reflect God’s rule over us to the whole earth. This is what Genesis 1:28 is all about: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” In his book ‘Waking the Dead’ John Eldredge notes this; “And let them rule. Like a foreman runs a ranch or like a skipper runs his ship. Better still, like a king rules a kingdom, God appoints us as the governors of his domain. We were created to be the kings and queens of the earth (small k, small q). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter has looked long and hard at this passage, mining it for its riches. He says the idea of rule means “a fierce exercise of mastery.” It is active, engaged, passionate. It is fierce.”
Note also what is said about God’s servants at the end of Revelation in 22:5, “And they will reign for ever and ever.” The Bible begins and ends with us reigning over God’s creation; reflecting his reign over us and in us. This is what we are being restored into. This is who we were born to be, to paraphrase Elrond’s speech to Aragorn in ‘Return of the King’. Jesus Christ died for us, conquered death for us and dwells in us through his Spirit so that we could become the rulers we were meant to be from the very beginning. This means that everything that does not belong to him that is in us must die. This why we need healing, forgiveness, discipline, grace and mercy. A lot must happen in us before we can truly reflect His glory, but it begins with your new heart and flows from there.
I’m facing a number of leadership challenges in my job right now. Having the title of pastor doesn’t help. Knowing that I’m born to rule helps a bit. Knowing that by fully surrendering myself to the King of Kings and allowing his Spirit to reign in me, is how I exercise authority in Jesus’ name, is priceless. Our rule is meant to reflect his glory, his love, his mercy and grace. That’s why we can’t do it and only Christ in us can.