Authority: Understanding Power Pt. 1

Inspired by a number of different events in my life I’ve been better trying to understand how I feel about groups, movements and institutions. By this I mean anything from what we call an ‘Emergent Church Movement‘ to an institution like York University to a group such as a church. Some of my experiences are as follows.

1. I’m part of a corporation. It sounds fancy, but it’s really not. It’s four of us university students who wanted to run a conference and we needed something to filter money in and out of so we started up a corporation to keep us all even and safe. We called it Epiphaneia Network, and we ran the Evolving Church conference. The other three guys are amazing and I love working with them. We work amazingly well together and we are all great friends before we even decided to do something at such a calibre.

2. A few days ago I got to go out for dinner at a super fancy restaurant where each meal cost well over twenty bones with the President and Provost of Tyndale University. I was quite underdressed with my shorts and postal shirt on and the whole circumstance made me feel a bit weird. Most people in Canada have heard of Brian Stiller, he’s one of the more renowned, vocal and seen evangelicals in our country. We made a comment about Campolo because Chris wants to go to his school and Stiller wasn’t reluctant to look in his Blackberry for his person phone number. You see Stiller on TV all the time, he’s has always seemed untouchable to me, but here I was talking to him across the dinner table. For the record, he was asking us how we ran our conference, which was another weird feeling.

3. I’m planting a church with two of my closest friends, and the last thing I want to do is be a church that produces a product and everyone else consumes it like many of the churches I have experiences in the past.

4. Every time I think about large organizations like Microsoft, Nike, Pepsi or even large churches or renowned Christians I am amazed at how ‘well off’ they are. They all drive nice, if not amazing cars, live in pimped out houses and never go without whatever they need. I guess it makes me more sympathize those that go without as opposed to me getting angry with those that have too much.

I’ve noticed two trends that seem to encompass almost every well known person or group or movement. This is a general statement and I realize that many don’t fit into these, but I think underlying much of excuses that we have these two reasons are.

The first and most obvious is money. So many organizations, ministries and people are driven by their love for money and their desire for more. It amazes me what someone would do for a big buck as if the dollar will make them happier as it increases. People are willing to kill, humiliate and destroy people and their lives to increase their wealth.

The second is being known. I think this is my main issue. I think so many people and movements are known because they want to be known. They want the world to see them. They start blogs to brag about their theological standpoints. They preach in front of crowds, they write their name on everything, they network with people more important than them and the list never stops. Their driving desire is to be known to as many people as possible for as many good things as possible. Sometimes I question why I even have a blog, or why I feel the need to go and meet a speaker, and say my full name to them after they are done, hoping that maybe or just possibly they will remember my name somewhere along the line. I know many of my motives are pure, but I also know that some of them are tainted by money and by my desire to be known. This is just the beginning of where my mind goes from here. I want some more time to think this through properly. I just keep praying every day that God purifies my motives more and more as I start to get more involved in his kingdom and involved in business and with people around me.

3 Comments

  • I struggle with the being known by others part too. I think that may have been why I didn’t introduce myself to anyone at the Evolving Church Conference – although I did get Brian McLaren’s autograph ;-). I so want to be recognized and acknowledged that I think (know) it gets in the way. I’m glad I’m not alone. :-)

  • Thanks for your post. I think we all have a problem with the ego. We want to be known and famous and liked. Especially when we are starting an organization or whatever, the desire to _network_ and be known and to know all the big-shots is great. Sometimes (perhaps many times) it can be overdone.

    I’m thinking of all these issues in relation to the biblical view of “weakness”. We always desire to be strong, in control and influential. We don’t like being “weak”. And yet, very often that is a result of wanting to depend on oneself, than in God. Paul said in Corinthians that only when we’re weak or our power comes to an end, then God is strong and God dwells in us. I think that’s a powerful and yet neglected message. And it speaks to a lot to the human fallenness’ desire for power, authority, recognition and strength.

    What do you think?

  • I listen to what youre saying and what you say is true.
    Everything we do is based around being more than what you were. Look at the message we Christians follow. Know God more. Consume more of him. And for what? Because knowing more of Him lets us know more about ourselves (and vise-versa). Everything we do in a positive sense is geared at taking us from point A to B. Whether that is location, wealth or knowledge; everything is based around consumption. Every organization, church and thing exists to consume more. Even if the motivations are good, the bottom line is still to expand. I dont think its wrong too (not that what your implying is that it is bad either).

    What does God command of us? Know him MORE. I dont think thats a bad consumption, and then you ask, why know him more? So that you can EXPAND the kingdom. (although you might say are job isnt to EXPAND the kingdom, its already been expanded, were just supposed to join it and recognize it (which still takes a consumption of your time and knowledge to come to this conclusion)).

    Even with this church you want to bring to Sarnia. Whats the motivation? I know it isnt to make a big church or get a lot of people to go. But you do want to help people grow, impact the surrounding communities, know more of God and make better communities. All of these things have a common trait. And although you dont want to use the word consume you still want things to expand.

    So I dont know, I dont think expanding/consuming is a bad thing, but it can and most certainly does get mistreated. Maybe the question isnt why we consume (because EVERYTHING does) but how we do it.

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