by Christopher Harbin

The Direction of Power
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 4:1-13

Power… so much of what goes on in this world has to do with power and struggling against others. We use power and influence to make us feel comfortable and secure. We use power to raise our status, to put others down, and at times to help others. We often make decisions based on our concerns with power and control. When we feel limited, we seek control by circumventing power structures to accomplish our will in conflict with that of others.

Of all people, Jesus should have been the most powerful. He had access to God's unlimited resources. The apostles ran a close second in their ministries, as did some of the prophets of old. In the practice of living, however, they did not wield power to control others. Their lives and ministries took a very different tack. Peter, Paul, Jesus, Elijah, and Elisha ran very much counter to our standard relationship to power and influence. How can we find appropriate direction for our ministries and lives following the directions of gospel faith, rather than the models of our society?

The Corinthian church was in shambles. Its various factions were vying for control and status. They wanted to use their rising social status for personal benefit. Corinth had only recently become a player in the political arena of the Roman Empire. People who had not been citizens of the Empire had recently come to a new status. There was a good deal of economic growth and many had risen in both social and economic spheres. Their recent rise in status and power brought overtones of social practice into the life of the church.

As they had thrown off shackles of Roman oppression, many were transformed into a new wave of oppressors. Newly discovered opportunity shifted the balance of power and they readily began using newly acquired power according to the models they had known all their lives. Their new freedom became an opportunity to wield power as a weapo ...

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