Many experiments have been done with human beings to determine how they respond in given social situations. One such experiment was done by a researcher named Zimbardo. He conducted many experiments on human behavior
The Prison experiment can be briefly explained thus: Young men, college students, were chosen and agreed to participate in the experiment. Some of them were “guards” and the others were “prisoners.”
The “prisoners’ were arrested, searched, booked, dressed in prison garb and given identification numbers instead of names. “Guards” were given uniforms, whistles, clubs and sunglasses.
The “guards” soon began treating the “prisoners” with disrespect and emotional (not physical) abuse. Several of the “prisoners” had to be released after just a few days because they were crying, confused and depressed. The experiment (which was to continue for several weeks) was discontinued after six days.
The roles assigned to these students became their reality in a very short time. Power (or the lack of power) and role began to dictate behavior. “Guards” who showed kindness to “prisoners” were pressured by the other “guards” to cooperate and be “guards.”
These roles and behaviors are found in real life. Persons of power control and manipulate persons without power. Unfortunately this is also found in churches. This should not be true. Persons familiar with the Bible and led by the Holy Spirit of God are called to express the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit of God. For them to use their power to abuse fellow believers is unacceptable and unconscionable
Some of these powerful persons are simply malicious and eager to use their power to harm and control, but many of them are quite well-meaning. Many believe that what they are doing right and necessary. Their methods, however, are typically harmful. They miss the Biblical injunction to blend truth and mercy and thus they present an unbalanced message of leadership.
Social sciences are quite revealing but, they should not be able to explain a Holy Spirit directed Church.
Be careful about the use of power and influence. It can be helpful or it can be very destructive. Jesus said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
Note: Descriptions (and evaluations) of these and other social experiments are quite available in textbooks and on the web. Exposure to these studies totally changed my life. To know and see sinful tendencies played out, opened my eyes to the evils of the human heart and behavior. It also showed me the social pressures to conform even in harmful situations. The “guards” were just as controlled by the system as were the “prisoners.” So, the “guards” was also prisoners of the social system in which they functioned.
It is so easy to be pulled into a system that allows power to be abused. Be careful. Remember this experiment.
Most of all, remember the words of Jesus.
Times were difficult. The nation was about to be taken captive and the national identity lost. Jeremiah was in prison. His nation was angry with him. He was speaking God’s words to God’s people and they did not want to hear God’s message.
In the midst of all this Jeremiah had an opportunity and a responsibility. His cousin visited him in prison and offered him a parcel of land. The land was available to be redeemed.
Land was given to families by God. The land could never be sold – that is it could only be sold until the time of redemption arrived. Then it had to return to the family to whom it was given. When it changed hands, it was valued at the length of time until the time of redemption. Redeemers in the family were offered first options to buy. They would buy and hold until redemption time and then the land returned to the family to whom God had given it.
This prevented unbridled capitalism and provided options for less able persons who may have had unfortunate experiences.
Jeremiah was an old man. He would never benefit from this land. But, the land would be held in the family for future generations. Jeremiah paid cash for the land. It would be years until the family could farm it again. The captivity would be for seventy years.
Someday someone would benefit from Jeremiah’s faithfulness and vision. Jeremiah would never see that day.
Jeremiah’s actions evidenced his faith in the promises of God. He believed that God would once again restore His people to the land and indeed He did.
What are you doing for those who will follow you? Are you doing things from which you will never benefit in this life? What are some of those things?
The fear of man brings a snare,
But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.
A prudent man sees the evil, and hides himself;
But the simple pass on, and suffer for it.
Obedience to God and His Word
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance.
But as the One who called you is holy,
You also are to be holy in all your conduct;
For it is written,
Be holy, because I am holy.
From I Peter 1:14 -16
For he looked for a city which has foundations,
Whose builder and maker is God.
For this cause we do not faint;
But though our outward man perishes,
Yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For the lightness of our present affliction
Works out for us a far more excellent eternal weight of glory,
We not considering the things which are seen,
But the things which are not seen;
For the things which are seen are not lasting,
But the things which are not seen are everlasting.
Hebrews 11:10, II Corinthians 4:16-18
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:
Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil;
For God was with him. Acts 10:38
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.
And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life.
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and
You do not need that anyone teach you; but as
The same anointing teaches you concerning all things,
And is true, and
Is not a lie,
And just as it has taught you,
You will abide in Him.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.
From I John 2:20-29