Sunday, 22 June 2008


I think David Schnarch (I love that name!) said that humans have two desires - one to be close to another. The other is to resist tyranny. I like that way of putting it. It is as though all relationships inevitably involve losing themselves (making themselves vulnerable, exposing themselves to another, sometimes being imposed upon). But these relationships also involve the desire to retain 'ourselves' and not be treated like a doormat, but with the dignity and freedom God has given us.

Yet, in the church the desire to retain 'ourselves' is often looked down on. We shouldn't be concerned with ourselves, but with others - we should serve. The language of servanthood is often used in churches to reinforce tyranny. People work like slaves in the Christian cause (or the cause of the minister). And people compete with each other about what good servants they are. They are discouraged from standing up for themselves because this is not servant-like.

Yet, bizarrely, I think I understand all the stuff Jesus said about servanthood to be against both competition and tyranny. He was saying that instead of competing for status and position and authority, we should look for ways of serving one another. It was written to the male disciples (and lets face it, it is still males in the church who love authority and the women who end up practising servanthood) to stop them being tyrannical. It was not written to the woman servant. Not every Bible passage applies to everyone. Bullies need to serve, servants need status! Leaders need to serve, servants need to lead! Its an upside down kingdom, not a crush them down kingdom.

1 comment:

DS said...

Brilliant post Mark

It's so important that we hear how different people are spoken to rather than just grabbing proof texts that we apply carte blanche -

Like the way Jesus nearly always says get down to men and get up to women, or the way Paul’s submission passages are often a long list that is about how everybody should submit to one another. (how would us men like it if we only ever pulled out husbands give yourselves up for your wife instead of the other way round!)