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For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness, from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this. —Isaiah 9:6-7
Government speaks to the bringing of order and authority to relationships and social structures so as to achieve desired purposes and goals for all those connected with that government.
Jesus told us to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Based on context, this quote could easily be translated to say, “Seek first the government of God.” Why? Because, by its very nature, the word “Kingdom” speaks to how that realm is governed and its purposes of rules and order. Establishing a government is the process of bringing order to an abstract idea so that it can enter into the material world. Order and government are inseparable. Government serves as the skeletal backbone upon which ideas, concepts, and principles of order are attached. Seeking to live in and under some form of government is the essential foundation for the continuity of all our lives, both personally and socially. Government exercises, disciplines, rewards, and sanctions bind everyone together within that system. We all live in and accept some form of government, or it would be a meaningless free-for-all without it. That is no small thing!
Government Empowers Ideas
What we are saying here is that ideas, unconnected to some form of government, are merely clouds blowing across our minds. The way we respond to government tells almost the whole story of our lives and the measurements of our successes and failures. By nature, rebels live in constant struggle with the constraints of governmental boundaries. Those who understand the essential need for government, and the constant responsibility to keep it appropriately functioning, live off the bounty of its rewards. Without government, we live in degrees of chaos. Recognizing this, we must address an equally immense truth of cosmic proportion: Government is the epicenter of the existential questions regarding the nature of power itself and how this power is legitimized so as to be consensual and not just the raw forces of control, corruption, and death.
Service-Based Power: Love Makes Power Safe
Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves. —Philippians 2:1-3
In my opinion, Philippians 2 is the pinnacle section in Scripture on the issues of power and government and Christ’s modeling of it. The first 16 verses are stunning, convicting, and breathtaking. The Apostle Paul opens himself in naked humility as he shares his God-given insight into the very nature of the marriage between power and love as exemplified by Jesus. Even as we speak, the whole world is writhing in convulsion over the issues of power and the raw displays of people and governments who are willing to sell their souls and the human rights of others to grasp whatever morsels of it they can tear off from the body politic. We can chronicle the daily examples of the latest shaming and prostitutions of dishonor. Indeed, with many leaders today, there is no pretense of trying to connect love for others to the wielding of power. The results of this are a growing disillusionment globally with government of all forms.
This brings us to the fourth of our Twelve Master Principles for Building Lives, Organizations, and Nations. Principle #4, Service-Based Power, is what ultimately holds people together and measures those who are in positions of power. The modeling of service-based power, or lack thereof, begins in our homes as parents and co-governors over our marriages and progeny. It is here that children are baptized into what is truly operating in the government of the family. Next, it will be shown in their schools, their peer relationships, and social governments. From there, it is experienced through interactions with coaches and other “people of power” in our lives. We are subject to social-political governments of all types and levels throughout our lives, not the least of which are the organizations in which we spend the decades of our working lives. As such, there is the need to constantly assess in both ourselves and other leaders whether our use of power is self-centered or service-based. Sadly, the core reality of our nations as a whole and the general way power is exercised within them is a reflection all the layers of authority that we as individuals and communities experience; it is a compilation of the family dynamics in our homes, how we show up at the workplace, our interactions on social media, the people we vote for, and so on.
We could go into a myriad of examples at deep intellectual levels of the uses and abuses of governmental power and social advantage, seen and unseen. Most painfully, and carrying the immense power to disillusion others, is the hate-filled cry for “more respect and power” for the so-called disenfranchised. Were they to gain that power, they would prove what has already been proven throughout history—hate-based power and the demand for it makes power the gateway to death and hell. The demand for power is the surest warning that it should not be had. The cry for justice and equality governmentally is birthed in God, and yet, most keenly meddled with by Satan. I give you the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Socialist birthing as excellent examples of tyranny, death to millions, and proof that power separated from Christlike motives ultimately empowers death. Power properly belongs to those who first cry out for wisdom and the activated will to properly live within their own responsibilities.
As we continue to study these Twelve Master Principles, we will see that Service-Based Power is the door opener to the next four Master Principles which deal directly with the major issues of government, power, community, and the nature of social structures.
May the reality of service-based power and the recognition that only His love can make power safe, not only capture our intellect, but all our hearts as well. Oh Lord, make us safe to serve with all the power that is required to bring real transformation to those with whom You have placed in our lives. And that is…
THE BOTTOM LINE.
Questions for Reflection & Discussion:
- In your own words, can you explain how government is the skeletal structure for ideas to enter into the physical world?
- Who do you have relationship with that you can engage in conversation around the idea of service-based power (love making power safe)?
- Is there anyone in your life (e.g., children, grandchildren, or someone looking to you for leadership) with whom you can set aside some intentional time to explain why we need empowering government to achieve our goals?