Know the difference between a 2-year-old and a terrorist?
You can reason with a terrorist.
Every 2-year-old starts off as a tyrant, determined to be ruler of his little world. His purpose is thwarted only with great patience and (now and then) a little force. The final solution is encapsulated in a plaque over the desk of a friend who reared three lovely daughters. It read: They Grow Up.
My point is that tyranny is not an anomaly; it is the innate desire of every uncorrected child and unchecked nation. Dictatorships have always been the natural form of government, and it took a very long while before the Athenians stopped Darius in 490 B.C., an even longer time before the English nobles put the screws to old King John and got the Magna Carta in 1215, and a still longer time before we Yankees started dumping tea in Boston Harbor.
In the 200-plus years since then, we’ve become accustomed to shooting off our mouths whenever we darned well feel like it, parking our semi-imperial troops in 145 countries, tooling around the U.S. without being told to show our passports, and periodically throwing the rascals out and voting in a new set of rascals. Yep, it’s great to be an American. A recent Gallup poll found that, compared to Europeans, twice as many of us would prefer to work for ourselves instead of being employees. Yee-haw! The word “Liberty” on our coins pretty much sums it up.
But we err greatly if we think that liberty is just a matter of throwing a revolution now and then. That just produces chaos, which invites immediate suppression. There must be a sound spiritual basis to uphold our vision of freedom under God. If we don’t let God be in control, there will always be a Lenin or Muhammad to step into the vacuum.
We need order as a counterbalance to freedom, yes, but order silently morphs into control, which morphs into repression, then into tyranny.
How can we break this process? First, by going back to the beginning and getting super-clear on the plot of world history. “Might makes right” was the rule since the earliest days of the Minoans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, Persians, and Medes. Guaranteed freedoms and human rights were not even on their horizons.
Then Jesus came along and, at the Last Supper, put on an apron and went around the room to wash the feet of his astonished apostles. His landmark, turning-point declaration was, “You see that the rulers of the Gentiles are lords over them, and their great ones have authority over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.”
Leaders as servants? What a concept! To this day, we still give lip service to the idea. In politics, it’s all about being a “public servant” in “government service.” In the church, it’s “ministry” and “servant leadership.” Even our heavily armed fighting troopers are “in the service.” Servant-leadership is a new world order that I can get behind.
But how can we expect servanthood from leaders in a country run from the top down by an impregnable Congress and its horde of committees and bureaucrats? Pull out your wallet, and you will probably see a symbol of the exact philosophy we’re trying to get away from: the Egyptian pyramid with its Masonic (Muslim) all-seeing eye, where power is concentrated at the top. That is our working model, not the Jesus model.
I applaud and support all the vast efforts of U.S. conservatives to stem the tide of the “liberal” confiscation of power. That must continue. But alone, it’s not enough.
The real solution to the World’s Oldest War (between freedom and tyranny, life and death, God and Satan), must begin at the underlying spiritual level in the church, the main repository of our culture’s most sacred, cherished values.
Today’s pyramidal church must go flat, returning to the first-century, house-church model of servant leadership in which being a pastor was a gift (see Ephesians 4:11), not a salaried position. The church worldwide must liberate its masses of so-called “laymen” to be what the Bible calls a kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood. We must graduate into house churches.
That, and only that, will get 100 percent of our troops into the battle. And then we can clean up this planet and win The War.