"Discipling the Powerful"
March 1, 2014
Texts: Romans 13:1-7; Mark 2:23-28; Matthew 8:5-13; Matthew 26:57-68; Matthew 27:11-14; Acts 4:1-12
One of the recent top stories in the news is that Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion dollars. According to the WhatsApp website, WhatsApp messenger uses the same Internet data plan that we use for email and web browsing. In addition to basic messaging, WhatsApp users can create groups and send each other unlimited images, videos, and audio media messages. WhatsApp can be used anywhere in the world on any smartphone. The designers believe that neither cost nor distance should ever prevent people from staying in touch with their friends and loved ones.1
To put this merger in financial perspective, Michael Wolf, chief analyst of NexMarket Insights, breaks down the value of an individual user. Wolf points out that WhatsApp has 450 million monthly active users with one million new users being added every day. The projected value of each user is $42 dollars. Instagram's cost per user is $28 dollars, and Tumblr's per user is $33. In 2006, Google paid the highest price per user for YouTube at $48 dollars. Irrespective of price, this past week Facebook acquired the world's most popular social messaging app.2
In the October 2013 list of Forbes magazine, Zuckerberg ranked 24th and is the youngest person on their list. His rank on the list follows that of Vladimir Putin of Russia who is seen as the most powerful man in the world. Barack Obama of the U.S. ranked number two, Xi Jinping of China number three, and Pope Francis of Rome number four.3
God broke down the value of individual users when sending Jesus to die in order to give Christ's followers eternal life. While on earth Jesus mingled with powerful people. In Jesus' day there was no separation between church and state. High priests, scribes, and elders were religious leaders but were also rulers and judges. The Pharisees were the guardian of the Law of Moses while the Sadducees were of the wealthy ruling class. Jesus met their needs when asked, yet the most powerful condemned Jesus to death on a cross.
Barry C. Black is the 62nd Chaplain of the United States Senate. He is not ranked on the Forbes list, but he mingles daily with powerful people. During the U.S. government shutdown, Black's prayers in the Senate chambers were noticed. His Facebook page shows visitors where he gets his power-from his friend, Jesus.4
We can't all pray in front of powerful people that impact a nation, but we can pray for Chaplain Black as he does. We can also look for ways to mingle with and pray for the powerful people in our local community.
Jesus' method alone is our model for reaching powerful people: win their confidence, pray with or for them, and minister to their need as opportunities arise.