Not So With You

jRecently I shared the conclusion of the study group my wife and I attended for about nine months. Today I am sharing about the beginning of the Emerging Journey study. The first lesson, and the foundation of the study, is rooted Jesus’ words “not so with you”. The “not so with you” theme was woven throughout the lessons and permeated our group discussions and writings. The big theme for me was that Christ-followers are distinctive. Yes Christianity has much in common with philosophies and religions, but there are some unmistakable marks of Christians. One of those is “not so with you”.

Three “Not so with you” Questions

The first lesson was “Biblical Foundations”, and set the tone for the nine months with three questions. It was emphasized that these are not merely questions for new believers, but questions meant for leaders in the church, and questions Christians must continually ask along their journey. And the other emphasis was that Christ-followers have distinctive answers, approaches and questions related to these questions:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who am I?
  3. What does God want to do through me?

Jesus’ Words

Here is the “not so with you” text from Matthew 20:20-28.

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[c] 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,[d] 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Impact on my life

This nine month study has deeply impacted my life. My approach to the bible, my life, my God, my community and my family has all been changed. I want the “not so with you” and other distinctive marks of being a Christ-follower to permeate my life. Here are just a few ways this study and the people in it have have impacted my life:

  • I feel like a human being.
  • I am no longer afraid to be myself
  • I am free to explore God’s unique mission for my life
  • I will pay attention to my family first
  • I have a new desire for seminary
  • I am free to be emotional
  • I am equipped with some ways to listen to the Holy Spirit
  • I know something about my strengths and my unique gifts from God

An Example: Pope Francis

pWhen I think about the “not so with you” attitude we learned from the study, I immediately thought of Pope Francis. He is becoming known as the “pope of firsts“.  He embodies the “not so with you” attitude of Jesus quite well. I am glad to see such a refreshing ambassador of the Body of Christ.

Here are just some of the impressive actions Pope Francis has taken to spark a new, distinctive era of reform in the Catholic Church, and in my opinion, in all of Christianity.

· After his election, he came down from platform to greet the cardinal electors, rather than have them come up to his level to offer obedience.
· He appeared on the loggia without the red cape.
· In his greeting he referred to himself only as “bishop,” not as “pope.”
· He referred to Benedict as “bishop emeritus,” not “pope emeritus.”
· He appeared without the stole, only putting it on to give the blessing. He then took it off in public (!), as if he couldn’t wait to get it off.
· He asked for the people’s blessing before he blessed them.
· He doesn’t wear red shoes.
· Though he has taken possession of the apostolic palace, he continued to receive guests at St. Martha’s House rather than the palace.
· He drank Argentinian tea in public when receiving the Argentinian president – protocol is that popes are seen publicly consuming no food or drink except the Eucharist.
· His first Mass with cardinals was celebrated facing the people.
· He doesn’t chant the prayers, he recites them – but this could be because of an impaired lung or his singing ability.


Some follow-up questions:

– How can your life display the “not so with you” attitude?

– What do you think about Pope Francis?

– How might Jesus’ words “not so with you” begin to transform the fabric of ubf?


  1. Pope Francis is humbly refreshing because he truly genuinely acts like “one of the guys.” He has no airs about himself, as though he is some kind of a “great servant of God,” whom others should kow tow to. Not that he will ever want to, but I would love to go to my first NBA game with him when Drose returns.

    • Yes, Ben, Pope Francis is refreshing. He is a good example for ubf. The ubf system does not work with “consensus”; it needs a pope, a good pope.

      Trying to run ubf with consensus is like trying to pound square pegs into little round holes. The next GD in 2015 will either be a pope figure like Francis who takes charge and brings reform or be like Rehoboam and slam down a heavy yoke to preserve ubf heritage (1 Kings 12:10).

  2. Brian, It is interesting that you mentioned Rehoboam. I have thought for the longest time that UBF has unfortunately adopted the unwise advice of Rehoboam’s young punks to enforce more strongly UBF’s core values, rather than listen to the wise advisors of the older counselors (1 Ki 12:6-7).

    • What interests me is how that passage mentions “this turn of events was from the Lord” (1 Kings 12:15)

      One of the “not so with you” mindsets I’m learning is not to consider all negative things as being from Satan. It is quite possible that certain events that seem so negative could in fact be from the Lord. My mindset should be to follow Christ as my Lord, seeking to discern His will day by day.

      The 2015 GD election (can we even call it an election?) will be telling. It is likely that the new GD will either be a hardcore hardliner, or a Francis-figure. I don’t see how ubf can play the middle of the road any longer. Perhaps there is a Francis for ubf? (and Gerardo rejoices in my newfound favor with the RCC!)

  3. By the way, the exact wording is from Mark 10, which is very similar:

    Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    This is a core passage of the gospels. Matthew 23 also repeats this message. And John 13:1-20 gives a good example. When pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners as one of the first things shows that he has understood this principle. But in UBF, it was always like “yes, we pretend to be servants, but in reality we only serve you in order to eventually subdue you and make you believe that you owe us everything and take your scalp as a proof of our spiritual fruit.”

    • Thanks for mentioning Matthew 23, Chris. That entire chapter needs much exposition and application in the ubf context. Instead of skipping that chapter or applying it to “nominal Christians” or looking for self-justification, ubf people need to examine themselves in the mirror of Matthew 23.

  4. This post makes me think about the ways I’ve changed since leaving UBF. I’m not who I was. This song really expresses my heart:

  5. MarthaO


    I love Pope Francis, I can see Christ through him, a love for God and a love for humanity. Love flows through him, isn’t this what Christianity is all about?

    I haven’t left UBF, but my heart is also changing a lot as I rediscover my identity before God. Its not that easy to do in the midst…

    • Indeed, Christianity really has little to do with being “in” or “out”, but has everything to do with love and friendship. We are so thankful for your friendship! The more bridges between members and former members the more we may all realize we are One Body.

      I am convinced the question isn’t “to stay or not to stay” but “am I following the prompting of God through His Holy Spirit to do what He wants and to allow Him to build His house in His way?”

      Yes I love Pope Francis. Such a breathe of fresh air! But last year, who would have ever guessed we would witness such a thing? It may be difficult to believe or to see, but I have never written off ubf. Indeed, ubf as we knew must end, and in fact is ending, but that is only so that some new movement may arise.

      I long for the day when my list of redeemed chapters is longer than 3.

  6. @MarthaO, @Brian, “Are you in (UBF) or are you out (of UBF)” is perhaps the most elitist, exclusive and useless way of looking at anything. Until any organization stops thinking this way, it is working itself into extinction and irrelevance.

    • Mark Mederich

      seems to mean are you with us or against us? people start with desire to do good but progress is slow so fantasy world can develop of victorious living: big prayer topics & big goals; but then we have to imagine we’re reaching them or get mad that we can’t. better to live humbly & let God be great when he chooses