In his book The Myth of a Christian Nation, Gregory A. Boyd argues that legislative power and the kingdom of God operate on two completely different levels. One exerts a power over people as it seeks to amass public opinion, gain votes and change structures of government, but the kingdom of God works on a power under basis — it is based on serving and lifting people up.
That power under form of bringing change to the world is best exemplified by the teachings of Jesus summed up here in these Beatitudes we have been studying. Blessed are the poor in Spirit; those who mourn; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; those who show mercy because they need mercy; those who quietly make peace; and those who are persecuted, misunderstood and falsely accused, for these people walk in the kingdom of God. These are all power under attitudes and attributes that are God’s way of changing the world. We change the world by connecting our own need to the needs of others and helping them before we help ourselves.
By the way, the kingdom of God — sometimes referred to as the kingdom of heaven — is not the same as heaven. The promises made in these Beatitudes are not fulfilled some day far off somewhere; they are fulfilled now. Jesus already proclaimed that the kingdom of God had come. He brought it; and through His Spirit, we can walk in it.
Jesus didn’t come as a political king to set up His rule and change the world by decree; He humbled Himself, became a servant and suffered and died, and that power under is now loosed in our lives by the Holy Spirit. He changed the world by example. We change the world by following Him.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). Washing His disciples’ feet was the ultimate display of a power under way of changing the world. And Jesus commanded His disciples to do the same. We are His disciples too if we do what He has asked us to do.
This is the way the Gospel of Welcome advances in the world — through each one of us as we serve the needs of those around us. The gospel is not spread by decree or by mass media (power over), it is spread by coming alongside and lifting people up, one by one (power under).
Think of some ways you can exert some power under today. Whose needs can you connect to today, and how can you serve them? When we use whatever resources we have to better someone else’s life, we are stepping into the kingdom of God. When we connect our need to the needs of others, we become a part of God’s solution. This is how we change the world.