Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield

It's not all about power

November 2, 2021 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Culture

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the 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 your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

One of the misguided tenets of many modern social justice movements is that relational dynamics are best interpreted primarily through the lens of power differential. We can’t just have men and women who relate to each other in various ways; one group (men) must be the oppressor group, and the other group (women) the oppressed group. Same with differences in race, class, sexual preference, and so on: everyone is assumed to be locked in a power struggle, with one group of people the eternal victims in need of justice. For those who have adopted this mindset, the world becomes a very evil and dangerous place. As Conor Barnes wrote in his essay Sad Radicals about his time in a radical community, “We inherited familial neuroses and saw insidious oppression and exploitation in all social relationships… To see every interaction as containing hidden violence is to become a permanent victim, because if all you are is a nail, everything looks like a hammer.”

In Matthew 20, Jesus confronted this very notion with his disciples. He told them that in the world, people often use their position to exercise authority over others. But among the followers of Jesus, this is not to be. Those who have positions or privileges that give them worldly power should use their position to serve everyone, to place themselves beneath others in love. In this way, they image Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Throughout my current sermon series on Justice, one of my goals has been to show that the Bible gives us a better way to fight injustice than any method our world can come up with. The way of Jesus is the way of love: loving your enemies (Matthew 5:44), overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21), and laying down your life for others (John 15:13). In a world increasingly obsessed with notions of power, we have an incredible opportunity to portray the beauty of a community where people vie not for the upper hand but for the lowest place. Marriages where husbands serve their wives and wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33). Churches where leaders serve the church members and church members honor their leaders (1 Peter 5:1-3, 1 Timothy 5:17). And communities where followers of Jesus are forever looking for opportunities to serve their neighbors.

Do not buy into the lie that relationships are all about power. In Jesus’ kingdom, the reigning ethic is not power but love. Lay down your rights and privileges, and let love rule.

Comments for this post have been disabled