Abuses occur when power is sullied. Whenever someone is in a position of authority—and all of us are in such a position in one aspect or another—that authority confers a certain measure of power. When one has the power to impose influence on another, how it is used will reflect ones humanity. That is, to treat another with true regard as another human, the hold the power (regardless of how it is conferred) must give up that right to wield it.
I do not say that none of us have a responsibility to have influence for good, and love, and the cooperation with God toward the final redemption of creation. True, lasting, transformative “power” is found rather in humility. Richard Rohr writes:
… Truly holy people are always humble. If you are not humble, you have not experienced the Holy One. If you don’t see humility and patience in religion, you know it’s not on the right course.
The prophets are always calling Israel to such humility. They represent the self-critical and honest part of religion. Without the prophetic element, religion is always self-serving and idolatrous. True prophets please nobody, neither Left nor Right, which are mere “ideologies” (having the answers before you know what the real questions are). According to Jesus, the whole world will hate you if you follow him (Matthew 10:22). When you are truly prophetic, both the Left and the Right will invariably mistrust and attack you. A great disappointment in our time is that organized religion itself has become more ideological than transformative….
Some may cite Jesus’ cleansing of the temple as model for force in certain circumstances. Though I would argue that act was done on the way to Calvary, and this singular act does not a model make. Still, I do not see lack of force or wielding of power a serious threat anytime soon. So, why is humility so hard to come by? What makes it so difficult for me to give up my right to any power—when it is clearly shown in Scripture and in experience that God’s power is complete when mine comes to an end? Well, truly, it is not something that can be done alone—we must, as community, practice humility with one another.
The world might hate us if we follow Jesus. But, what is the cost, really, when Jesus has already been placed above all powers and authority—and, all for love? For you, for me. I do not want to live out my life for mere ideologies. What matter winning an argument? I want to live a life transformed and I want to do this in community and I want all who come into our company to know love—the power of love, the kind of love that makes me more who I am, not an ideology. It isn’t easy, and it is definitely messy. But, really, the alternative breeds abuse. Humility breeds freedom. And, freedom justly transforms.