Striving for power and influence


Now there was a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.  And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’  But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22: 24-26.)


The disciples believed that Jesus was about to be crowned king and that he would place someone in authority over the rest of them (a sort of ‘right hand man.’)  So they were arguing among themselves about who this might be.  (They misunderstood the kingdom, and what type of crown Jesus was about to receive; instead of Gold, his crown would be made of thorns.)  Jesus implied that the disciples were behaving as the gentiles (a gentile was anyone not born of Jewish descent.  The majority of Christians today are gentiles; although believers should not behave as gentiles.)  The Greek/Roman culture was dominant in the 1st century and they surrounded Israel.  The Greeks and Romans enjoyed working out naked, and bisexuality and homosexuality were rampant; they enjoyed watching men kill each other in the coliseums, and prostitution was incorporated into their religious practices.  What truly set them apart from the Jews however, was their social structure.  There were elite aristocrats, military leaders, and government officials near the top; they dominated and abused the people who were lower than they were.  Slavery was massive (in many places the majority of people were slaves), and men and women were bought, sold, and used just like items you might find at the grocery store (the culture was so class oriented, that there were even class systems within the community of slaves; 1st class slaves, and 2nd class; 1st class slaves had some rights.)  From birth, the Greeks/Romans measured success based upon social ladder climbing; the further up the chain one would go, the more valuable they were.  The Jewish culture on the other hand was vastly different; most Jews saw themselves as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father; equal in the eyes of God; yet the social influences of the world had made their way in to the hearts of the disciples, whom Jesus corrected promptly.  He instructed them that greatness to God meant service to others.  They were to desire to be lower than others, rather than superior to them.

The United States today is a gentile nation.  Many people are driven by the desire to move up, and to gain advantage over others.  A gated community is better than an apartment complex; it is better to be the boss than it is to be the employee.  Most government offices are filled with people who enjoy power, and wealth, and influence.  There is a class system in the United States just as in the days of the Greek/Romans.  But it shouldn’t be that way for those who call themselves disciples, believers, or followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus asks his followers to turn away from striving for power and influence and instead to strive for lowliness.  He wants believers to stop climbing the social ladder, and begin climbing the spiritual ladder.  The spiritual ladder leads to places of humility not prestige.  Is it more appealing to you to be a master or a servant?  Do you see other people as tools to gain advantage in life, or as opportunities for service?  Stop striving for worldly greatness, and make an effort to serve others, to love others, and to attain greatness in the eyes of God.

“Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask and pray that You make us servants.  Take out of our hearts the desires for worldly greatness and give us strong desires for spiritual greatness.  We desire humility rather than riches, and love rather than silver and gold.  Give us opportunities to serve You, and to serve others.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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