Pursuing Partnership: Stronghold #9 – Distorted Power
by Drs. Leslie and Chad Segraves
In this series of blogs, Leslie and Chad identify spiritual strongholds that need to be unearthed and removed so that godly men and women can partner well together for the completion of the Great Commission. Pray with us into these mountains, and by faith may these tectonic plates move in Jesus’ name!
Expanded Family, Expanded Sharing
When our first child was born, she began jabbering with childlike expressions at the dinner table. When her younger brother arrived, he joined the kitchen table for meals. To make room for his infant banter, we all spoke a little less. When our last child came home from China, we placed her in the highchair. We never moved a loved one away. We simply grew. We shared the eating and talking space. And the conversation with each addition grew more robust and sweeter.
In much the same way, at God’s kingdom’s table, with each new brother or sister, we “share the power” of talking and listening.
Power can be used to bring good or demise to self and others. We see the theology of power woven throughout the pages of the Bible.
Genesis 1-2 – Power Shared
In Genesis 1-2, God revealed himself as the All-Powerful One. God created the man and woman in his image, and then empowered his creation – commanding both male and female to cultivate culture throughout the earth. Co-missioned side-by-side, they were (ezer k’negedu) equal strengths.
In short, God blessed both the man and woman with amazing world dominion power!
Genesis 3 – Power Violated
Satan hated that God shared power with humanity. In Genesis 3, humanity’s sin distorted their shared power. Instead of mutual, outward-focused power to care for the world, they turned that power against one another. Man took the ruling power; women lost ruling power. God’s initial command was marred, and all cultures have felt the loss through never-ending power struggles.
Jesus – Power Restored and Shared Again
The Jewish nation waited for a Messiah to deliver them from their oppressors. Instead, Jesus came to overthrow what binds all people – sin. Sin’s power led to death, and death led to eternal destruction. So, Jesus came to take away the power of sin.
In Jesus’ “upside-down kingdom,” he modeled and taught how to give power away. Like God in the garden, Jesus empowered and commissioned his disciples to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach repentance. Two-by-two they moved out in his power! After his resurrection, he again gave authority to the disciples (and us!) to “make disciples of all nations”! Jesus is the God who gives power away.
The Apostle Paul recognized the power of the cross and resurrection to impact relationships not just in eternity but also on earth. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile (ethnic division), neither slave nor free (economic division), neither male nor female (gender division), for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Pause and consider the practical implications of this verse. How do Christians obey and put into practice Paul’s theologically packed statement? Sadly today, a stronghold of abusive power AND deficient power remains among Christians. (Examine scholarship showing how Paul turned a Jewish prayer on its head!)
Gatekeepers and Hierarchy
Rather than allowing Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection to impact all human relationships, some Christians choose to act as gatekeepers who have bought into a hierarchical framework based on gender. Their framework endorses the full participation of men, while women are limited or excluded from using certain spiritual gifts. They interpret Galatians 3:28 both “essentially and practically” for the Jew/Gentile category and the Slave/Free category. But for the Male/Female category, they emphasize, “equal in essence, but unequal in function.”
Missionary and author, David Hamilton (YWAM) stated, “If we’re preoccupied with maintaining our status, if we’re trying to protect the privileges of some hierarchy taught by our particular culture, we are acting in a non-Christian way. These reactions are the opposite of the Gospel message.” (Why Not Women, 2000:139).
May the Church raise up spiritually-gifted servants of godly character, not giving in to the pervasive stronghold of hoarding power or protecting the power of men alone!
May Christians choose to empower others as a reflection of our ALL-POWERFUL Savior who shares his power.