“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'” ~Matthew 4:8-9
The world has been trying since day one to redeem the world. The world says if we have power we can redeem the world. We can make it better. But they can’t. For thousands of years they’ve tried. It’s one of the devil’s most effective lies: more power, more education, more wealth, more technology equals a better world. We’ll make the world a better place by imposing our knowledge and our systems on the people around us. Eugene Peterson, in his book The Jesus Way, writes:
“War has always been the classic way of choice to impose our idea of what is good on the people we don’t like or disapprove of. It still is. In the century just completed ‘all the kingdoms of the world,’ led by the most advanced kingdoms economically and educationally, outdid themselves in not getting along. The facts and statistics are indisputable: the smarter we get, the more prosperous we are, the more murderous we become.”
The world has always said ‘might makes right.’ And sometimes the Church falls into that same trap.
Every single Christian believer has an important voice and an important presence in the way this country is run and the way our culture is formed. Yes. It’s critical for the redemption of creation. The world must see us and know where we’re coming from and where we’re going. But, we are being deceived by the devil if we think for one minute we can speak in a way or act in a way other than or counter to the way Jesus spoke and acted.
And we are guilty. Contrary to the clear example of Jesus, the Church of God is guilty of seeking and exerting power.
From Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus:
“One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly give in to the temptation of power — political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power — even though they continue to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to his divine power but emptied himself and became as we are. We keep hearing from others, as well as saying to ourselves, that having power — provided it is used in the service of God and your fellow human beings — is a good thing. With this rationalization, crusades took place; inquisitions were organized; Indians were enslaved; positions of great influence were desired. Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the Church…we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.”
Love is the method of redeeming the world. Power is the shortcut. Power is easy. Love is hard. It’s easier to be God than to love God. It’s easier to control people than to love people. It’s easier to own the world than to love the world.
Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you love me?” And his disciples ask him, “Can we sit at your right hand in the Kingdom?”
The Way of Jesus is in deep, personal, intimate, loving, and giving relationship. With each other and with our community, for the salvation of the world.