Power Over/Power With: A Five-Part Blog Series on Power

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We all have some power. Power to act, to choose, to alter our world and affect others. Having power is a part of being image-bearers of God. Yet power can so easily become corrupt and be used to marginalize, manipulate, or control others. When we are unaware of or not careful with the power we hold, we can cause deep harm.

Jesus’ way of wielding power looks different from our own sin-corrupted ways of using our power.“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you….The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Matthew 20:25, 26a, 28)

This five-part series, considers what the Bible says about power and how we might better follow Jesus’ way of self-emptying power (Philippians 2). This series is a partnership between the CRC's Safe Church Ministry and the Office of Social Justice. 

Series posts: 

  1. Eric Kas - A Theological Look at Power: From Cover-up Families to Cities of Self Interest
    • "The Church has been wrestling in a variety of ways to name and navigate a proper way forward in a climate of dissention and disunity, where many don’t share a common language to talk about systemic issues, especially as they relate to power and abuse. In this blog I will dissect the role of power and its misuse in two stories that echo the original Fall in Eden. The first is the story of the budding vineyard family business, and the second is its outgrowth into a bustling city."
  2. Miriam Spies - You May Have More Power than You Think
    • "I placed myself at the lowest end of the line. I was not yet ordained and hadn’t yet finished my education, was fairly low income, was the one learning in that room and not teaching, and I was one of the youngest women, who also lives with a physical disability (Cerebral Palsy)... Placing ourselves and recognizing the power we do hold or lack is one thing – hearing how others view us and the power they experience is another. We all hold power and power in and of itself is a neutral concept. It is the way in which we use power and how others experience our use that can encourage or abuse, lift up or tear down others."
  3. Mary Li Ma - Power Structures in the Church
    • "Power structures exist in the church because local houses of God on this earth are also human social institutions. In fact, it is especially in the church that a range of leadership gifts are endowed with overlapping layers of power: hierarchical power, theological power, emotional power, spiritual power, etc.Take Chinese churches for example... Given the general authoritarian political culture in mainland China, churches grant more authority to their leaders... So power abuses in this scenario are really hard to expose and counter, because the congregants are generally trusting and submissive to church authorities."
  4. Viviana Cornejo - The Power of the Body of Christ against Misuse of Power
    • "During the time of the dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990), the Christian denominations decided to be either neutral or ambiguous toward the regime. This created an environment of division, distrust, and disappointment towards the Church... Abuse of power is something we can see almost every day and at different levels and areas. We can read about parents, teachers, landlords, and even pastors that used the power they have to abuse of those who are more vulnerable."
  5. Bonnie Nicholas - Why is Sharing about Sexual Abuse So Hard? 
    • "I wasn’t planning to write a blog for this series about power, but here I am wondering why it is so hard to share a story when that story involves sexual abuse. Perhaps the intense powerlessness of the experience makes it too traumatic and difficult to talk about. Sexual abuse survivors often have fractured memories, the body’s way of protecting itself from the intensity of the full experience. Imagine the horror of finding yourself in the midst of a hurricane, a flood, or an earthquake – you are trapped, you cannot escape the devastation you know is coming, it’s terrifying! Sexual abuse can be a little bit like that."
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thank you all for "speaking" up and adding your voice to this important conversation about power and it's use, misuse and abuse! I'm very thankful to see more and more voices helping increase awareness and encourage action on behalf of the many who have suffered injustices due to abuses of power, to help limit further abuses as much as possible in the future... and to help others respond better when abuses happen and are shared with them...

it takes a village to cover up, and it takes a village to help bring healing and protection... I hope and pray the era of silencing and covering up of these abuses of power is now ending.. and we are moving into a new era that people will speak up and seek justice on behalf of those who have been harmed so that others may flourish and thrive and  live the abundant life we have in Christ Jesus!  not saying all abuse will end, but that we will respond much better when we become aware of it going on... it's time for the silent treatment regarding abuses to end (and those who encourage this silent treatment regarding abuse know who you are)... and that response of silence is well on it's way to no longer be allowed as an acceptable response because it not only abdicates justice, it also obstructs justice... so thank you for being a part of ending the silent treatment regarding abuses of power so healing and justice can move forward...