Tryanny or Freedom?

There are two human traits that seem to be immutable—that there are those who want power over others, and there are those who want to be ruled by others. What I want to show is how both of these traits are corrupted by weakness in human character. These trait then become carnal and even demonic. It’s the very opposite of how the kingdom of heaven works.

We find a story in Matthew 20 where John and James apparently get their mother to ask Jesus to have her sons rule with Him, one sitting on His right hand, the other on His left. Of course, the other ten were indignant because they wanted this prestige and power themselves (see Matt.20:20-24). Here’s Jesus’ reply:

25 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, called them to his side and said, Kings and those with great authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, like tyrants. 26 But this is not your calling. You will lead by a completely different model. The greatest one among you will live as the one who is called to serve others, 27 because the greatest honor and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant. 28 For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served but to serve and give his life in exchange for the salvation of many.” (Matt.20:25-28 TPT*)

First, notice that Jesus is saying that rulers in this world will use authority oppressively as tyrants. The more power you give a ruler in this world, the more tyrannical they will eventually become. We see this evidenced throughout human history. This is exactly why God warned Israel about having a king over them (see 1 Sam.8:5-22). Here’s just a small excerpt:

11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. …. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. (1 Sam.8:11, 16 NIV*)

This also reveals the other form of corruption of the human soul, that people want such a ruler to solve every problem for them.

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Sam.19:20 NIV)

But the more power we give them, the more enslaved we become to them.

Of course, we do needs leaders, and there is a government of heaven, which leads us to Jesus’ second point.

Jesus is saying that His leadership does not force others by His power but by serving out of His other-centered, self-giving love. And when we experience God’s self-giving love, our response is to do the same for others.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor.5:14-15 NIV*)

This form of government actually works. However, nothing will work well unless both the rulers and those being ruled are first ruled by God, for it’s the fruit of the Spirit that makes this possible (see Gal.5:22-23).

A country not ruled by such servant-leadership is a country that will progressively experience more tyranny.

Our nation’s Constitutional framers understood that many people wouldn’t be ruled by God, so they mitigated the danger by having checks and balances to keep power away from those ruling over us.  I think it’s been conclusively proven that the more power we’ve given them since then (because we want a “king” over us to fight our battles for us), the more our government becomes tyrannical and oppressive.

This is precisely why we declared our independence from the King of Great Britain in the first place. Just read the Declaration of Independence.

“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. ” (excerpt)

Sadly, it didn’t take very long before we starting following the same pattern, giving more power to our government rulers. If not for the brilliance of the Constitution, and the occasional expression of other-centered love practiced by some exceptional leaders at critical times, we would be far worse off now than any tyranny we broke away from.

Beloved, our hope should never be in what politicians promise us. It can only ever be in the exercise of other-centered, self-giving love being expressed by both the rulers and those being ruled. This is how heaven works, and our job as Jesus’ Church is to express “the way of heaven” on the earth. Not by power or coercion, but by other-centered love.

This is why Socialist ideologies never work and are actually evil, for they put all the power in the hands of those who rule over us. And absolute power always corrupts absolutely. Haven’t we learned this lesson yet? Why do we keep making this same mistake, over and over again, giving rulers power, hoping they can fix our problems for us and then expecting different results?

Of course, we’ll continue on this tragic path if we believe the lie. However, this truth will always lead us to freedom instead of tyranny.

11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12 NIV*)

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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6 Responses to Tryanny or Freedom?

  1. jilldomschot says:

    There is another type of person who strives for autonomy, which can be both good and bad. They are responsible people but often feel they don’t need God because they can do everything themselves (or perceive they can).

    • Mel Wild says:

      Very true. It’s funny, my wife and I just watched an old mini-series about Homer’s poem, The Odyssey. What you’re saying was the lesson that Odysseus had to learn. He was arrogant and thought he didn’t need “the gods,” in this case, which had catastrophic effect on his life, resulting in being lost for 20 years until he finally humbled himself and, thus, learned wisdom. A modern funny version of this story would be Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day!”

      My point in bringing it up is that it’s interesting that the ancient pagans understood this about human nature, but intelligent proud people still don’t get it thousand of years later! Gaining wisdom requires the realization that you’re not “all that.” That our gifts and talents come from (the real) God, not our atonomous human power. To ignore this is very foolish.

  2. Amen, well said! Chuckling here, because we seem to be on the same wavelength. I was just studying about the Israelites wanting a king.

    The area where I live is a prime example of what you are talking about. We have some 95% compliance with everything the Governor decrees. Actually the number of vaccines given out exceeds our population, so make that about 113%. Masking compliance in this county is near universal, even while alone in the shower. So it should all be good, right? Nope, our leaders got a good taste of power and control and they really want more. Worse, a good chunk of the population likes not having to take any responsibility, any risk, or even having to think critically. Myself, I would be quite happy to just blame our corrupt leaders, but it’s pretty obvious how we are enabling this situation to continue. We are much like the Israelites who wanted a king. Like you said, “But the more power we give them, the more enslaved we become to them.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yeah, compliance like that is almost on a level of mass psychosis. I’ve known people who had problems taking their mask off even when it was universally said to be okay to do so several months ago. And they’re fully vaccinated. It’s like, “I need my mask!” It has more to do with some weird mixture of virtue-signaling, fear, and a sense of security (like a dog who feels secure in a cage) than it does the actual danger of Covid.
      I personally don’t like cages of any kind. 🙂

      • Douglas Mcdougall says:

        A bit condescending don’t you think. A well written post, but this remark that some people who prefer to wear masks still are like dogs in a cage is a bit much.

  3. SLIMJIM says:

    Another excellent post

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