Sunday, October 29, 2006

Religion, power and servanthood.

The Adlerian school of psychology as its basis, uses the supposition that man is seeking power. (As opposed to the Freudian, which presupposes that man is seeking pleasure).

It observes that as children we are born helpless and that we all grow up with an inferiority complex. We then compensate for this by achieving forms of power, whether it be in knowledge, authority, athletic prowess, and what not. And much good has come out of humans struggle over their limitations. Works of art, athletic achievements, technological revolutions.

Some people will use religion as a form of compensation. Whatever the religion, they see it as a way of being one better than their fellow man or of achieving control.

I have seen it in Christians who claim to have the word of God and yet are plainly using it to ignore their own problems. In benign forms, it can be that we don't adequately prepare for an exam and like the innocent child who prays after the exam that the capital of the USA is New York.

In its most terrible form,we see it in people who use the name of God to gain money, political power and incite hatred. We have seen it during the middle ages during the Crusades and we see it now in Muslim extremism.

The problem is that we want to use God for our purposes, rather than let God use us for His purpose. The created being makes a god of his own creation and for his own purposes. The prayers in our heart turn from "thy kingdom come" to "my kingdom come."

The Israelites thought they could manipulate God like a weapon when they carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle against the Philistines in 1 Samuel 4. It worked before so wouldn't it work again? And yet they were defeated. They made the mistake of ritual over purpose.

We want to ask God like Joshua "are you for us or for our enemies" and the answer is"Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." (Which establishes the correct authoritative order of God and man).

We are all capable of misunderstanding religion as power. The disciples thought that Jesus would come and overturn the Roman empire and establish Israel. They also squabbled over who would sit on Jesus left and right place.

The key to gaining power is in fact a paradox. Jesus said "whoever wants to be the greatest, must become the least." "Whoever wants to gain life, must give up his life."

It is in the act of servanthood, in serving others that we gain greatmess. This precept it not without its pitfalls. Do not confuse humble acts with service. A CEO serves his company best not by sweeping the floors (though doing it occasionally does provide a good example) but by providing leadership, direction and serving those under him so that they in turn ultimately serve the customer better. A husband becomes the greatest family man by serving his wife and children. A teacher becomes great by serving his students. A company becomes great by serving its customers.

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