Thursday, September 09, 2010

Choose Love Not Power

One of the things that I feel strongly about when it comes to politics and religion which I hope this blog reflects, is that we should follow the example of Jesus, not the example of Machiavelli. It seems to me that if we want to call ourselves "Christian," we must adopt the humility and sacrifice of a servant-leader like Jesus. 

Too often people who think of themselves as Christian instead operate under the assumption that life is a zero-sum game, that we must win by controlling everything at all costs- thus the so called "culture wars." Part of the problem of this kind of militarism is that it presupposes that God can't win unless we do everything we can. Hello? Isn't He omnipotent? It also assumes that our perceptions of what needs to be made right is always absolutely correct and if He's not taking care of it, then we must. Hello? Isn't He omniscient and eternal? And aren't we each, and every one of us imperfect, impatient and mortal?

Perhaps the biggest problem with the "waging war in God's name to somehow reclaim the culture on His behalf" world view is that in our zeal, we too often fall into believing and living by the falsehood that "the ends justifies the means." If we believe that God opposes something we assume that it must be okay to do just about anything and roll over pretty much anyone in our quest to advance His "kingdom." 

First of all, "ends justifies the means" is from Machiavelli's "The Prince," whereas "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you" is from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Second of all, some scholars now think that "The Prince" may have originally been intended as a political satire. In other words, he was making fun of power-hungry, manipulative, greedy politicos (like Steven Corbet does today), NOT offering sage advice on how to accumulate affluence or acquire and retain political power.

One of my favorite Christian authors, sociologist and political activist Tony Campolo has a new book, "Choose Love Not Power."  I'm looking forward to reading it and just listened to a series of radio interviews he gave on the subject. Campolo explains that Jesus (and our) authority doesn't come from negative campaign ads or signatures on petitions or position or prestige- but rather from credibility and that credibility comes as a result of love and service. Like the old saying, "They won't care what you know until they know that you care."

This is a great argument for good works. Not because you need to do good works to be saved (we are saved by grace) but 1) others need our help, 2) it shows love, and 3) it builds our credibility up so that we can speak with authority because people will know that we speak from love, not from some misguided compulsion to be in control.

In other words, if the Word is the seed, and the soil is a trampled path, a stony area, or a weedy spot- perhaps showing love and being wiling to become a servant will help plow, cultivate, or fertilize that soil so that it will be more receptive to the seed. 

Here is the podcast of Campolo's interviews:

“Choose Love Not Power” Interview

Tony Campolo delivered this sermon at World Christian Broadcasting Corporation in Franklin, TN on May 25, 2010

See notes on these interviews and links to other Campolo podcasts at his Web site:

    No comments:

    Post a Comment