Privilege, Power, & the Gospel of Jesus

There is a lot of talk about privilege in our world right now, especially white privilege. So often the conversations are loaded, filled with either defensiveness or shame.

Part of the problem seems to be that we tend to think of power in terms of position only, and we have a sinful tendency to only think about power in an upwards direction. We readily see ourselves as “less powerful” than those above us, but rarely think about how much power we have to serve those who are weaker. 

Jesus came and laid down his life for the healing of the world. Each week when we gather around the table of communion we remember that Jesus (who was all-powerful) willingly laid down his power for the sake of others. To follow in the way of Jesus is to, like Jesus, be taken-blessed-broken and given for the healing of the world. It is in the bread that is broken and in the wine that is poured out that true life and redemption are found.

We must recognize that no matter our position or privilege, we all have power.  We all have power within relationships to subvert or support, to destabilize or stabilize, etc., as well as other types of power like wealth or status. Humility and service aren’t about randomly giving up that power, but about using that power to serve the interests of others. As the ancient scriptures say, “Let each of you look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Becoming a servant is not about becoming less than ourselves, but using our full self to serve the needs and interests of others.

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