The vices and problems that beset Christianity at any time were modeled for us in the New Testament. The disciples of Jesus showed us the ambition and jealousy that always threaten the witness Christians give to the world. Today it might seem to us that sex is the big threat to Christians' credibility as we read of sexual scandals involving clergy. Without underestimating the devastation wrought by these, it is worth noting that sexual scandal probably has more appeal for the media than other scandals. Power plays and the trajectory of ambition are more difficult to pinpoint and present to the public. Probably no vice has so strongly affected the followers of Christ as the desire for power, "to lord it over others" as Jesus called it (Matthew 20:20-28). It's amazing to note that we who claim to follow the lowly Jesus who triumphed by the cross are so apt to take up the instruments of domination. Historically, how many tragedies and scandals would have been avoided if church leaders had been immune to the lust for power? From popes to pastors, it has hurt the church and embittered Christians. Authority, Jesus teaches, is given for the service of its subjects, not for the satisfaction of those who have power. Service as used in Scripture is not the antiseptic word we see in the Yellow Pages where it refers to everything from windshield replacement to child care. Service for the follower of Christ entails suffering and death. We might easily embrace service as an ideal, but we should be prepared for a broken heart and demands we never envisioned. Service involves sharing the death of Jesus. Discipleship for Christians includes learning to serve with and in Christ who modeled service for all of us.
-- Don Talafous OSB