Numbers 16:1–50, Romans 16:17–20, 1 Corinthians 1:10–17
Most of us have heard John Dalberg-Acton’s quip, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” What is most often missed is Acton’s “tends”.
David Brin takes a slightly different tack, “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
Lastly, Robert Caro’s take might be the most significant for us, “We’re taught Lord Acton’s axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don’t believe it’s always true anymore. Power doesn’t always corrupt. Power can cleanse. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals.”
Korah wanted more than he had. Whether he wanted power, prestige, or influence, is unclear. Who knows, maybe he thought he could earn holiness by being the chief priest. Regardless, his entire family was given a duty in regards to the holy things of the temple. It was still an honor, but as some many of us struggle with, it wasn’t the honor he wanted. The undercurrent of this is power. At this point, the religious leader was the people’s leader. It’s not clear whether Korah convinced people to follow, or that they gathered somehow. The reality is that they did gather. Scripture says that they rebelled against Moses, but as the story unfolds into the relation that as they were rebelling against the leader chosen by God, they were rebelling against God. Without question, Moses was chosen supernaturally by God, and there were multiple events that testified to that. It was abundantly clear. However, in our day-and-age is it the same?
How our leaders are chosen is different than such an obvious outward sign of God’s hand. It is through prayer, wise thinking, discernment, and much counsel that good leaders are chosen. However, we are all human. Leaders make mistakes. Followers make them too. Two of the biggest obstacles to unity are not necessarily tied to the leadership position itself (for who wants the blame), but the influence and power of the leader, then there is jealousy and envy. This is human reality. Human selfishness often hides behind the call of doing the best for others, but truly only serves the self. When Paul talks about divisions in Romans, there are obviously people stirring up trouble. That’s got to be dealt with. Most people expect the leader to do it, yet it is not the leader’s responsibility, it is the responsibility of everyone. There is mutual accountability and responsibility in the community. Yet, people will still be people, and divisions will occur.
In Corinth, we read of divisions of which person they follow. While most of us would say, “I follow Jesus,” is that true? As the Western World runs away from Christianity (sometimes with good reason), while the Middle East and Eastern Worlds actively oppose Christianity, the Church has to come to a form of unity. The Church for far too long has been separated for good doctrinal reasons, but the reality is that every denomination and unaffiliated congregation will have to come to some sort of agreement with one another. As long as the church eats itself, it cannot feed the world the Bread of Life.
1) Where do you see the greatest unity in your personal life? Where do you see the greatest division?
2) Where do you see the greatest unity in the world around you? Where do you see the greatest division?
3) For each of the above, what can and will you do to build unity and heal division?
FD) People usually separate from others when they are hurt emotionally. What can we do to help?