Marva Dawn writes in Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God that the “sporting impulse” of competition prevails over the gospel impulse of justice among most believers (“Powers, Weakness, etc p41). She continues to ask, “Why do conversations at the dinner tables of pastors conferences seem to focus more on comparisons with other churches than on creating justice for the poor?”
Marva continues to ask whether this prominent concern for success and for survival are actually a sign of the fallenness of our churches. As Stringfellow pointed out, “The principalities have great resilience.. and adapt [their dominance] to the sole morality which governs all demonic powers.. their survival.”
Marva also references Bill Kellerman (“Seasons of Faith and Conscience”) who shows us that power makes victims of its wielders, with reference to the three temptations Jesus faced (and this answer has some striking echoes of Jacques Ellul):
“The insidiousness of the temptations lies in the integrity of how and who. Power and person are the topic. The one crouched ready to gobble up the other. Power may consume, corrupt, inflate, distort, dissipate, or simply deaden the person. The Confuser’s scheme is for Jesus to forget who he is by getting lost in how he’ll work, so that the Lone who is the beginning and the end will be swallowed up in the means..
“It seems more and more widely recognized that each of the temptations is to power: the first is to economic power, the second is to military/political power, and the third is to religious power. In all, we are granted a concise and compact exchange on issues at once very concrete to the life of Jesus and pertinent to our own. Remember that at the conclusion of the encounter the tempter doesn’t slink off into oblivion forever defeated: he withdraws “until an opportune time.” Such times present themselves repeatedly to Jesus and his followers.” (159-60).
– See more at: http://nextreformation.com/?p=11732#sthash.DCKw6147.dpuf