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Responding to the Powers

• Osheta Moore

God is inviting us to respond to the volatile issues around racism in a uniquely Kingdom way, a way modeled by Jesus. This Kingdom way provides concrete handles for battling against the rulers, authorities and powers that drive racism in our world.

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What is the unique Kingdom response to issues regarding race? The answer is rooted in Ephesians 6:12: that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This means that we can’t make enemies out of others. We are called to never fight against fellow “image bearers” of God — other people. But if we’re not careful in the work of fighting racism, we will make enemies out of those who are racist. The principalities (spiritual agents that influence the world) desire nothing more than to inflict a new version of conflict. Our impulse to fight each other comes because deep in our spirits we know that we should be revolting against something. But in our ignorance of the systems at work, we turn all that angry energy towards each other.

But what if there’s a different posture we can take when engaging this work? What if in this defining (“kairos”) moment, we revolt against the systems of racial oppression through education, prayer, activism, and conversation? What if we choose to manage our responses to the potentially relationship-breaking emotions we’ll have? What if when we dismantle the systems, we’re also able to protect and build up our covenant to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ?

This is modeled in the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13:1-17. Jesus, the Master, was doing the work of a slave. In those days, it was customary for a slave to wash the feet of visitors. To not provide this kindness would be considered inhospitable. Some believe that maybe the disciples’ feet were not washed upon coming in because there were no servants available to do this job. Whatever the reason, Jesus himself gets up from the table, removes his outer garment, pours himself a basin of water and begins to wash the feet of the disciples.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus did not use power over people, but used his power to come under and serve. He used the power of sacrifice to reach the hearts of people. The power-over strategies of the world can only force behavior. We look to this example, because in the struggle for racial equity we want and need hearts to be changed.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet mere hours before his arrest — hours before his disciples would expect him to respond with the power-over approach the world uses. However, he knew he was going to respond with power under, even to the point of death on the cross. In this, Jesus teaches us that when the powers press in, we as Kingdom people are to resist struggling against flesh and blood through pride, anger, vengeance, and violence. Instead, we take a posture of love, one that leads us to serve and not to attempt to dominate.

There are four responses of this posture of power under:

  • Respond with Confidence
  • Respond with Humility
  • Respond with Truth
  • Respond with Invitation

These four responses prepare us to engage issues of racism in a Kingdom way, a way modeled by Jesus, a way that will change the world.

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Topics: Kingdom of God, Reconciliation

Sermon Series: Race Conciliation

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
Foot-Washing Video on YouTube
The MuseCast : June 23

Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 6:12

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers.

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2 thoughts on “Responding to the Powers

  1. Ken Revell says:

    This was a very insightful moving message riddled with pain and hope. The black and white struggle is intertwine. Understanding that we are the kingdom people have to create safe places and places of uncomfortable discussions and places were healing can occur. They were times when it looks like the United States is on the brink of a massive Disaster. Yet your message brings hope!

  2. Dana says:

    You are far, far too gracious. I am in awe. You truly make me want to be a better woman, and a better follower of Christ. I would also like to personally slap a few people for you, but I’m working on that; may God allow me to find the same state of grace you’ve found. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayer tonight. So much love and appreciation, from this Canadian white girl, just trying to get it right.

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