The Power Struggle
Watching or being in a power struggle isn’t a new experience in our human journey. I’ve seen and experienced power struggles in a variety of situations, including: passengers on an airplane, an argument between a police officer and a driver, parents confronting a teacher about their child’s grade, workplace disagreements, sibling sniping, sport competitions and lots more.
I’d also suggest that there can be power struggles in religious environments, such as disagreements in Bible studies, disputes among elders and pastors and lots more. Sometimes, the conflicts can be simple and face value, easy to resolve. Sometimes, the conflicts revolve around theological differences and sometimes it’s nothing but a plain and simple power struggle.
Recently, I was reading about a conflict between Jesus and a synagogue official in Luke 13. What started this conflict was Jesus healing a woman who had been bent over for eighteen years. Jesus healed her on the Sabbath in the synagogue and the religious leader didn’t like Jesus’ timing.
So, he confronted Jesus in Luke 13:14, “But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, ‘There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’” This synagogue leader tried to make his power struggle with Jesus about the timing of Jesus’ healing. Furthermore, he was addressing the synagogue crowd, maybe trying to gain adherents for his powerplay against Jesus.
I think he was trying to control Jesus, using the Sabbath, the synagogue crowd and theology as his leverage. He was trying to make Jesus conform to the human regulations that he relied on for piety and righteous living. This wasn’t something new that Jesus experienced during His ministry on earth. Indeed, the most consistent and intense conflicts Jesus experienced occurred between Him and the Jewish leaders of His day.
Jesus’ answer in Luke 13:15-16 is really powerful, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
When I think about this conflict between the Jewish leader and Jesus about the woman getting healed, it makes me pause to consider a few important questions:
- Do I have a need to control times, people or experiences so that I remain in charge / keep my authority or power?
- Do I argue with Jesus about His methods and processes for helping people?
- Would I be ok with Jesus doing something contrary to my expectations or definitions?
- How do I respond when things don’t go my way or the unexpected happens?
- Do I choose to keep an open heart for God’s participation that can sometimes be untraditional or unconventional?
These are interesting questions to ponder and may God give us the ongoing grace to surrender to God’s ways in our lives! Let’s remember Isaiah 55:8-9 which says, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ’For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”