Earlier this year I was a guest of Every Nation Brisbane. I was invited to speak at their Leadership 215 course covering some of the topics in the Old Testament Survey syllabus. Part of my brief was to come up with questions for class discussion to aid the learning process. I had a lot of fun coming up with a bunch of questions that would stretch the thinking of the students and I thought that I would write a series of blogs based off them.
The first question related to the book of Judges. In Judges the refrain ‘In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes’ is found 4 times. It sets up the coming Kingdom of Israel and seems to suggest that centralised power is God’s preferred method of government. It’s an interesting concept and has implications for us today. Is power centralised or decentralised in the Kingdom of God? That’s the question I posed to the students.
In some ways I think it was a bit unfair because I believe the answer is both. But it was good to hear opinions from students defending one answer over the other. On the one hand Christians live in the kingdom of God. This kingdom has a king. This king is the perfect human being and fully God. Never has so much power be concentrated into one individual in all human history. Read Colossians 1 for a refresher on how much power this king has (‘in him all things consist’). His reign is unassailable and absolute. This seems to suggest that that power in the kingdom of God is the most centralised that will ever exist!
But this king is like no human king or leader the world has ever seen. Jesus accedes to his throne and ten days later he pours out his Spirit at Pentecost on all flesh. This is the most egalitarian action of any ruler ever. Think of the radical decentralisation of power that exists in the kingdom of God. You can be the Pope, Patriarch, mega church pastor or the newest convert still covered in vomit and just standing up from the gutter and you have the same Holy Spirit in you. The same access to the king of all power.
Jesus has all power and ten days into his reign over the universe he gives it freely to all of his people. All of them. He does this by giving his Spirit to us. This is exactly why the church should be the most empowering organisation on earth and as a corollary, the least controlling. Leadership structures are important but the essential organisation chart or the church, in terms of power, is Jesus at the top and the rest of us directly beneath him. It’s two layers deep.
Is power centralised or decentralised in the Kingdom of God? It’s both. And it’s both radically. Power is absolutely centralised in Jesus who serves us in his leadership by extravagantly empowering every single one of us. Who else empowers like this? What’s more, the implications of this power structure for the church and it’s mission are incredible. This is how the world is changed.