Friday, October 17, 2014

Power Structures: The Pyramid & the Inverted Pyramid

What is a pyramid in the terms of a look at the structure of society?  A pyramid in teaching and history has often been shown to adequately describe the basic layout of a society and how it is controlled, or governed.  One can also see an economic picture when looking at the layout of a pyramid.  

Today in terms of what we'll be looking at, it's kind of an umbrella.  Distribution of political power, economic power, and indeed spiritual power I think can be well described within the context of a pyramid.  

In our world today we have at work, generally, the pyramid structure.  At the bottom are people like you and I, with the least amount of power, and bearing the weight of the day to day operations of the society.  Going up you see the various other segments of society with increasing amounts of power, and less and less of the population involved as you move up the pyramid.  

To illustrate take a look at a political drawing from the early 1900s, obviously the illustrator was seeking to attack capitalism.  That is not my purpose for this short discussion on pyramid systems.

So the working class is at the bottom, and then you move upward to say the "middle class" something I was part of when I was in my teen years, before my parents divorced.

Remember in the late 90s and early 00s the cost of living was much lower.  The Federal reserve had not devalued the US dollar to the point it's at now.  So during that time in my life I was the son of a teacher and a nurse.  Today that would not necessarily make someone middle class.  (I suppose it would depend on what kind of teacher.)  We took frequent vacations.  I was very blessed.  I got to see Washington D. C., Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, Boston, fishing in Canada, and I was even privileged to be at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  My parents worked a great deal, but there was also plenty of time for vacations and relaxation.  We owned several cars, a ski boat, 3 wheelers, and snowmobiles.  Of course today my parents are both in debt and struggling to make ends meet.  Divorce does that.  

After the middle class you have probably the upper class, people who make above $100,000 a year.  Engineers, doctors, lawyers, police chiefs, small business owners, and so on.  Sort of "upper middle class."  

Next you'd have large corporate owners people above 10+ million a year.  These are the people who really influence things on not just a local or regional level, but on a nation level. Included in this group would be Senators, Representatives, certain Religious leaders, Government bureaucrats, all the way up to the President of the United States. 

Next would be people who make over 100 million a year and exert influence over not just national politics, but international politics.  This would largely be banking institutions and the owners of those institutions, including fortune 500 companies, and representatives of international governance organizations like the United Nations and European Union.  

So that's how it breaks down.  And most people live in the money paradigm.  People will pretend they don't, but they surely do.  Money is the god, and it is not a forgiving god.  It demands tribute and gives more to those who have and as far as those who have not, well, sometimes the unexpected does occur.  

Enter, Jesus Christ.  I hope you smile at this moment.  Because the world has a lot of problems, and much of it can be attributed to the pyramid.  Entire continents starve and suffer from disease and the money is there, but it is not open to those who would need it.  But then there's our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who changes everything.  And what happens with Jesus?  He does the impossible.  

Our glorious Lord flips the pyramid on it's head.  As is written in the word: ""So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:16 NIV). 

In the future kingdom we see an inverted pyramid as the style of government.  Jesus Christ is the benevolent President.  And those who had been the most abused and neglected of society on Earth as it is now will be the first in His government.  Those who ruled on the Earth in this life, will be the least in the kingdom, at best, and at worst, they will have no place in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

This is why I can't understand it when friends of mine say that "religion is the opiate of the masses."  Do you know that you're quoting Karl Marx?  Do you know that his system of government/economics has been used to enslave and commit genocide against entire populations?  Keep that in mind.

I concede, absolutely, that religion has been used as a method to power.  I consider the megachurch leaders, not all of them, but some of them, such as Mark Driscoll, who use their position as a means to power, status, and influence.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved the teachings of Mark Driscoll, but with increased power, comes increased responsibilities (Luke 12:48).  That said, God bless the leaders of the church and we should be quick to accept their acts of repentance, multiple times, 7 times 70 times (Matthew 18:21-22).  If you work that out it comes to 490 times.  So that's a lot of times.  I assume, even more. 

So there I come to the purpose of this post: Humble leadership.   

I find it quite confusing, the pastor position.  But I do live in the United States so, that might explain it.  The pastor position is kind of a position of prominence and authority as far as I can see.  They are busy, powerful, CEO-like men and women who stand atop the mountain directing the company below.  On the stage, the godly man, the representative for the people before God.

But that isn't biblical.  The biblical "leader" I suppose would be much more so like the humble servant role of Jesus Christ, washing the feet of the disciples.  The eternal servant.  In the correct model, the "pastor" or "elder" would be below the church members in the scheme of "power."  The leader is the servant.  

Philippians 2:5-11
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

This is illustrated well in the role of the church planter.  A poor church planter, according to Ralph Winter in his book "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement" will do certain things:  He will have to be at the center of everything.  He will be the one in the limelight, with all the attention on him.  He will have to have his hands in everything.  He will be very hesitant to delegate any authority.  And he will then end up attracting only the very least influential members of the local culture.  

I've been a part of a church plant that went just like that.  But Ralph Winter also wrote that in a really good church plant, it will be something called a "people movement."  And it just rings true with the message of the Bible.  The church planter is hardly seen.  He tends to work behind the scenes.  He is quick to take give out power to locals.  He finds a local person of influence and simply helps that person to take on the roll of prominence in the new movement.  Then the movement takes on a very "home grown" quality.  In the best kind of people movement the church planter is never noticed.  And isn't it like our God to exalt the humble church planter in the background, out of the limelight, who painstakingly works for others to get the earthly honor?  Of course it is.

In the same way, the humble servant pastor leads up a healthy church.  He is not a CEO power player.  He is a servant of his congregation.  

1 Peter 5:1-4 (ESV) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 

In this world we have a pyramid of control, and most of us are at the bottom.  That's what it's like in a kingdom controlled by the evil one.  But in the kingdom of Christ Jesus, the poor and powerless are quickly the exalted.  I know so many people so consumed with the political corruption of the world and the brutal realities of life on Earth.  I used to be that person, searching for the truth in all of it.  To them I say, keep fighting for a saner world today, but also, have the eternal perspective.  Christianity is not another method of control.  Christianity is the ultimate solution to the greatest question: Why is the world so messed up?  And an even bigger question: How can we fix it?  

The answer is Jesus Christ.  There is no perfect economic system or form of government that will make all this suddenly ok.  Because the problem is not government corruption, or corporate corruption, or social corruption.  The problem at it's very core is my corruption.  The evil in my heart, and in your heart, because we've all at one time or another contributed to the problem.  And the only answer to the evil in my heart, is rebirth in Jesus Christ.  That is the very heart of the solution.  Become a part of that solution.  Because it's real.  And it works.  With Jesus as President, the pyramid inverted, and the evil in my heart replaced with love, finally, peace on Earth, life, joy, no more death.  Free, free at last.  That's the ultimate liberty in Christ Jesus.


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