“A Great Chew: Holiness & Power”
As a cow chews its cud, so I continue to chew on the rich holiness teaching that was thoughtfully spread before me at the 17th Annual Holiness Symposium for Officers and soldiers.
Two soldiers and thirty officers, all serving a three-year term by Territorial and Divisional recommendation, gathered at Territorial Headquarters’ Crestview Conference Center on April 13th and 14th for the symposium.
Major Young Sung Kim, Territorial Ambassador for Holiness, prayerfully and carefully crafted the schedule of the 12 and a half hour gathering. From the opening dinner on the first night to the Plenary Discussion at the end of day two, the structure lent itself to wonderful fellowship, meaningful worship, rich teaching, and thought-provoking discussion.
Speakers, Colonels Janet and Richard Munn, gave five penetrating presentations to unpack the theme: “Holiness and Power”. Below is a taste of each meal that was set before us…
“Jesus’ image-bearing example teaches that divinely empowered image bearers are not to grasp at such privilege (Philippians 2:1-8) but, instead, exercise power as God does by creative self-giving, for the sake of others (Mark 10:43-44)” -Colonel Janet Munn
- Fullness of The Spirit was depicted in a variety of images. My favorite was the image of a full house. Colonel Richard explained that when the Holy Spirit has access to every chamber in the home of our heart he is truly resident and president of our lives. There is no room in our heart which remains uninhabited by Holy Spirit. He is the full home owner and can access every room, without question. He lives in every room and reigns in every room. Every shared image of Fullness of the Spirit contributed to a clearer understanding of sanctification.
- Colonel Janet Munn challenged us to ponder the use of power as Officers in the Salvation Army. She shared these quotes from Abraham Lincoln and Beasley Murray, “Any man can withstand adversity; if you want to test his character—give him power.” “Power can be used creatively or destructively, to heal or to damage relationships, to liberate or to oppress, depending on the one exercising it.” We were challenged to consider the need for accountability in the use of our power as Officers. Officers have the power to encourage, bring healing, provide growth opportunities, listen, and serve suffering humanity. Like Christ, we don’t exist as Officers to be served, but to serve. When our power is used coercively, it has derailed and needs realignment.
- One main use of power in this walk of holiness is in the fight against injustice. As Christ followers we are called to be a voice for those whom have no voice of their own. Our fight is not with strength and sword but with humility and love. By persistently demanding justice on behalf of the oppressed, we fight. Through the imagination of justice restored and expressed through intercessory prayer, we fight!
- Humans are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:27) designed to reveal God in community with one another. At creation they were given authority to “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over…” (Genesis 1:28). Jesus arrival on earth as the image of God, strongly supports the “understanding of the assignment given to humankind in Genesis 1 as divine image bearers with delegated divine authority. Jesus’ image-bearing example teaches that divinely empowered image bearers are not to grasp at such privilege (Philippians 2:1-8) but, instead, exercise power as God does by creative self-giving, for the sake of others (Mark 10:43-44) ‘. (Colonel Janet Munn). Later in Scripture, “Galatians 3:28 brings into focus the kingdom of God as a new world order.” (Colonel Janet Munn). The bottom line is that there is no Gospel apart from a social Gospel lived out among believers whom are influencing the world around them. “This community in Christ is to demonstrate unconventional relational power dynamics, in which those whom society would exclude are welcomed, the weak are empowered, and the powerful humble themselves, resulting in a domination-free order. This theological understanding of power in Christian community assumes the transformation of all social relationships.” (Colonel Janet Munn). Such teaching must cause us to consider how effective our corps community is at bearing the image of God and impacting our communities for His Kingdom.
- While Scripture clearly reveals that the Holy Spirit is associated with power (Acts 1 & II Timothy), our display of that power is not intended to be a domineering expression but a ‘self- emptying’ exercise. Colonel Richard Munn explained, “Jesus is not ’pretending’ to be a servant. He takes the ‘very nature’ of a servant. His equality with God is not exploited, rather it means he has nothing to prove, nothing further to grasp after and achieve. His authority is not in rank, qualifications or material wealth. It comes from God and shows itself in his life. He does not give his own importance first place. He puts to one side that which interferes identifying with us. He ‘empties’ himself voluntarily and willingly in order to become human. He absorbs the human frailty of others. ‘He became a man and as a result, understands our frailty. He is obedient. His obedience is supreme and costly, it costs him his life. Thus, followers of Christ, including leaders, taking the principals above, should also serve, value inherent authority, relegate anything which interferes with basic human relationships, absorb human frailties and be under authority themselves.” “Holy leadership is servant leadership! It has nothing to do with wielding power.”
“Holy leadership is servant leadership! It has nothing to do with wielding power.” -Colonel Richard Munn
Cows must chew their food twice in order to digest it properly. My prayer is that I will continue to chew on these teachings of “Power and Holiness” until they are effectively assimilated in my ministry.
Cheriann Stoops, Major
(Montclair, New Jersey)