“Everything about his life, his teaching, and his death was a demonstration of a different kind of power—not just in relation to the spiritual realm and not just in relation to the ruling political authorities, but in the ordinary social dynamics of everyday life. It operated in complete obedience to God the Father, it repudiated the symbolic trappings of elitism, it manifested compassion concretely out of a calling and vocation, and it served the good of all and not just the good of the community of faith. In short, in contrast to the kingdoms of this world, his kingdom manifests the power to bless, unburden, serve, heal, mend, restore, and liberate. “What follows is clear: as ones who accept his invitation into his kingdom, Christians must follow him.”
Hunter summarizes Jesus use of social power with four characteristics:
- Jesus power is derivative– rooted in and intimacy & submission to the Father.
- Jesus power is humble– rejecting the privileges of status & reputation.
- Jesus power is compassionate– serving the good of all not just the good of faith communities.
- Jesus power is noncoercive – blessing rather than cursing the other.
Hunter then goes on to ask, “What does this mean for Christians who want to engage the world for good?” He continues,
“In our day, Christians have not only embraced strategies that are incapable of bringing about the ends to which they aspire, they have also embraced strategies that are deeply problematic, shortsighted, and at times, profoundly corrupted. If the flourishing of Christian faith and its cultures depends on a model of power that derives from Christ’s life and teaching, what does this look like in practice?”
I wonder whether you might let this question of practice intersect in your mind with a reflection upon your unique sphere of influence. What are you discovering about Jesus “but not so with you” words (Luke 22:26) in your context? Where might Hunter’s characteristics of Jesus’ exercise of power stretch and challenge you in your work and relationships and influence?