Monday, March 24, 2014

Lust for Power is the Biggest Divider

When we talk about division in the body of Christ we often talk about doctrine. We can easily come up with a list of doctrines that the church divides over. For example: the meaning of baptism, the mode of baptism, the meaning of the Lord's Supper, predestination/free will, women's roles, polity, purpose of gatherings, and the clergy. We could all easily think of several more.

The interesting thing is that it is not doctrine that is the most common cause of division within the church. Rather, it is lust for power that brings about the most disunity. I've seen this time after time. You probably have, too.

Lust for power takes different forms. It can be power grabs for decision making purposes. It can be church leaders telling others what to do. It can be cliques staying to themselves while excluding others. It can take the form of clashes over stuff as silly as building additions and/or refurbishments.

In the end, power grabs all stem from one thing: selfishness. They are about putting self before others.

Jesus Christ, the one Head of His church, does not accept lust for power. He simply will not have it in His body. Greatness in Christ's family stems from servanthood, which amounts to looking to others before self.

In Mark 10:42-45 we read the following, "And Jesus called them to him and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"

When we think about the unity of the body, doctrine is not the place to start. Instead, let's look at our own hearts. Only when we are willing to live in humility, looking to put others before ourselves, can we begin to experience true unity in the church.


CTS said...

The corporate model is based on a hierarchical power structure. It works the same in the church as it does in secular business. So yes, power is the bases for most "church" problems and splits.

Norm M. said...

That's a pretty astute observation and one you don't hear people talk about. I think that hits the nail on the head.

Aussie John said...


Thinking of the root cause of this lust for power, I'm reminded of John's words:

"For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world".

John's words preceding this statement explains what is going on:
"If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him".