Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
“But Jesus called them aside and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’” — Matthew 20:25-28.
Power, my ethics professor was quick to point out, is a morally neutral thing. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with power. Power can do great good, and power can work great harm. After all, we affirm that we are to use the “freedom and power God gives” to resist evil, injustice and oppression “in whatever forms they present themselves.” (Baptismal Covenant) But what is the nature of the “power God gives?”
When we look at the power that Jesus wielded, and the power of the young church in Acts, we see that power shows itself in some unusual ways. Power is used by Jesus to cast out demons, to heal wounds, to free the oppressed, and to break down the dividing wall between those “in” and those “out.”
Jesus’ power could have looked very different; after all, Jesus is God’s Son. But Jesus used his power not with tanks and guns, but with liberation and love. Jesus lifted up humility as the standard for greatness, and love as the badge by which his followers would be known.
It is my prayer following Annual Conference that we would “use the freedom and power that God gives us” to work together for the sake of the transformation of the world. It is my prayer that I will be able to report back to my church about how well we listened to each other, how we loved our neighbors as ourselves and how we modeled for the larger church how to affirm unity, even without unanimity.
As John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.” (John Wesley, “Catholic Spirit”)