A Real Power Play

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un – who will come out ahead in this political power play?

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and US President Donal Trump might actually be in the same room together for “talks” in the next couple of months. This would be an unprecedented event, one that I will have to see to believe.  It’s difficult to know what kind of power play the Asian dictator might be making. It’s possible President Trump might have some unknown motive (other than his ego) driving him. Regardless of who gains an upper hand in the power struggle over the Korean Peninsula, it will be surreal seeing the two men together in photos or videos given the two leader’s rhetoric this the past year. The desire for power will make people do crazy things.

However, this reminds me of a person who transformed Asia in the late 19th century, James Hudson Taylor. He is remembered as one of the earliest European missionaries to China and the founder of China Inland Mission (CIM). But when it came to power he took a much different approach.

“An easy-going, non-self-denying life will never be one of power.”

– J. Hudson Taylor

Would you post that quote on your Facebook page? Can you say, “Amen!” to that? Are you ready to give up every ounce of power and control that you (think you) have and deny yourself? That’s difficult because usually when people attain some level of power or control, they only want more.

Power, influence, wealth and security all seem to be our life goals in America, but every one of those is a house of cards standing one breath away from collapsing… unless faith is part of the equation, faith in Jesus Christ. But the power, influence, wealth and security that come from being a Christ follower look a lot different from what the world offers. That is the hard part.

That’s the struggle for me and my family right now. We are in a season of being patient, trusting the Lord and denying our own desires to serve His Church. Almost every United Methodist clergy person is going through the same experience. Being an itinerant pastor means that we can’t make a power play and at the same time honor God through this yearly process. We trust that the Holy Spirit and the faithful women and men leading the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church will do what is best for our local “mission fields.” After all, we need to practice what we preach! If this is God’s church, then faith must come first. 

James Hudson Taylor, (1832 – 1905) British missionary to China. Beard game, strong!

Today Taylor’s legacy is felt in every corner of Asia because he helped people in the Western culture see China as an uncharted mission field. Now, 150 years later, the church in Asia has emerged as its own powerful mission-sending organization… and God gets all the glory.

The more we wield our own power, influence and wealth, the more we look like the world and the less we look like people of faith. We can trust that God is in control. And if you want to see real power, look to the sacrificial servant leadership of Jesus. He flipped the world’s power structure on its head. He laid down his life for us, the ultimate sacrifice. But it was also the ultimate power play overcoming even sin and death. He’s proven himself worthy of our trust.