Jesus gives away power

Lent 2023

Power is not ours to keep, nor ours to wield over people. As Christians, our job is to follow the example of Jesus Christ in not holding on to power but giving it away. On Fridays this Lent, I shall be looking at the example of Jesus both in the temptations he faced and in his empowering of his disciples.

Having looked at the temptations of Jesus and Jesus sending out his followers it is time to see how this is applicable to the 21st Century.

A waiter is delivering fruit and some drinks to a hotel table.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

This blog post does not directly mention being a servant, but it is implies throughout.

“Father is always right” is a name a Roman Catholic friend put to the phenomenon that a church leader cannot be argued with. Other churches have this too, there are some Charismatic churches that have a structure where the leader is given the title Apostle and there is also a leader who is called Prophet whose job seems to be to prophesy that the Apostle is right.

While it is not necessarily bad, it is not hard to see how this system can become abusive.

Abuses in churches can be found in all denominations (including that denomination that calls itself non-denominational) and across all varieties of churchmanship. It is found in traditional and pentecostal churches, in conservative, liberal and progressive churches. Abuse in the name of the God of love is everywhere, and it should not exist.

One simplistic answer to this massively complex problem is being authoritarian. People putting their leaders above criticism as well as leaders putting themselves above criticism is dangerous.

Christian leaders should never bully or abuse their congregations. I think that is the most obvious statement I have ever written. I can understand the desire to not have people rock the boat on its way to heaven, so their response is “Sit Down.” They are making the mistake of mistaking uniformity for unity. Jesus’ chosen 12, his closest companions were anything but uniform, how were a freedom fighter against the occupying Romans, Simon the Zealot, and a Roman collaborator, Matthew the tax collector, supposed to get on together? The only thing they had in common was Jesus. The Bible is clear that there were arguments and disputes among Jesus’ followers when Jesus was with them and also afterwards when Jesus had gone back to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to them.

Christian leaders, be like Jesus. Jesus did not lord it over his followers, though he had every right to do so. Instead, he empowered his followers, giving his authority away to them. Could Jesus have stayed around and become the universal ruler after his resurrection, but that would have meant exerting his power like a dictator, not giving it away. Jesus’ way was always to empower people, to give his power away.

I will finish in the same way as I ended the previous post:

Power, authority and control are not ours to exert over people. Instead in faith in the Father who loves us, in the Hope of Jesus Christ who died for us and rose to give us new life and in faithfulness to the Holy Spirit we are supposed to give our power, authority and control away. We have at our disposal the same spiritual resources that Jesus used when He faced and defeated Satan: prayer (Luke 3:21–22), the Father’s love (Luke 3:22), the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:1), and the Word of God (“It is written”).

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