Much has been made of late of the concept of white supremacy in the United States. This article will not discuss or debate the impact of that issue, for there is a host of material on the subject, and it often leads to contentious and acrimonious arguments and hurt feelings. What I want to focus on is the recent constitutional amendment that removed the two-term limit of service for the party general secretary and chairmanship of the party’s Central Military Commission. In other words, the man who holds those positions is free to rule for life, although Xi Jinping has said he is personally opposed to lifetime rule. We shall see, for it was not unusual for two-term limits in African nations to be challenged when the ruler approached the end of his second term. It was once said in an American comedy movie, "It's good to be the king."
My point is that the tendency, perhaps even the drive, to dominate others is not a Caucasian trait, or a Chinese thing, or an African weakness. While it has often revealed itself as an expression of racism (Caucasian against black, Caucasian against Aboriginal people, tribe against tribe in Africa), it is a human trait that goes beyond race to cast its ugly shadow over every age, culture, nation, or tribe. The source of this tendency is explained in only one place and that is the Bible in Genesis 3:16 when the Lord said to Eve, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The result of the fall is that Adam would want to "rule over" Eve.
We have seen this play out again and again in male and female relationships, but this desire to "rule over you" immediately expressed itself when Cain killed Abel (see Genesis 4) and when Nimrod established kingdoms that included Babylon, and used his warrior skills to conquer and keep everyone in line, using weapons to do so. From that point in history, we learn that every nation and people has had a tendency to find someone it could dominate and rule. (Lest you think that this tendency to dominate is only a male trait, consider the millions of women who have expressed their domination over their fetus through abortions that had nothing to do with the health of the mother or condition of the fetus.)
Then along came Jesus, whose purpose is explained in Colossians 1:19-20, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Jesus came to restore order as it was meant to be in the Garden before the Fall, and part of that is to reverse the tendency to abuse power that clings to all human beings. Jesus' recommended antidote for leadership power is service to others, and even that can become an exercise in dominating others as we do things for them that they do not want because those good deeds are in their "best interests."
It is interesting that one metaphor for Jesus is the Lamb. In Revelation, we behold the Lamb seated on the throne, which represents power and authority (see Revelation 4:13). If people were choosing something to epitomize power on a throne, we would choose the lion, tiger, bear, or something equally as intimidating. Yet God chose a Lamb, and then asks us to emulate the model He chose as Jesus taught in Luke 22:24-28:
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials."
So don't believe the lie that the propensity to abuse power resides in any one people group. It resides in us all, and while Jesus provided the cure, it has seldom been applied, even among those who follow Him and call on His name. Something tells me this problem is going to be with us until He returns again, so in the meantime, I need to look to myself to see not if but where this abuse-of-power tendency is present in my own life.