Power Problems

It is very hot in our part of the country right now, which means many officials are calling for safety measures. For instance, a local emergency services bureau is telling people not to go outside; even expressly in the morning. Never mind that the mornings are the coolest part of the day and exactly when you should go outside, but whatever. Along with the summer heat comes the increased use of air conditioners, and the electrical grid is having trouble handling it. This, along with the State’s mandates to shift to exclusively electric vehicles are lessons in a couple of ideas; power, and power. When there is too much of a draw on power, the power goes out. Also, when there is a pursuit of power, everyone needlessly suffers.

While the Bible, understandably, doesn’t have anything to say about electric infrastructure, nor needs to, it does have plenty to say about ambition, pride, and power. Probably the single best place that this is spoken of is in the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:5. There, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is the idea of strength, or power, under control; like a horse that has been bridled. So, what does it look like when a powerful person restrains their power to the fullest? And what would they do with the earth when they inherit it?

Political people pursue power and make others’ lives arbitrarily miserable. We get that. Its ubiquity is annoying. So why should Christians ever talk about power and being powerful like they do? Consider when the politically savvy Salome, mother of James and John, wanted to leverage power (Matt. 20:20-28). Jesus’ final words on the subject were, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” That is what the meek do with the earth.

Beyond this, we could maybe say that everyone has some power given to them, but only on loan as they use this God-given ability to glorify Him. So, Peter explains that servants are to serve (1 Pet. 2:18), wives must be chaste and respectful (3:1-2), husbands must be gentle and understanding (3:7), elders are to be examples, not lords (5:2-3), youngers are to be subordinate (5:5). All of this is because “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5). Thus, “we have an example for you to follow in His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21). The steps of the meek and lowly One. Thankfully, God the Mighty sees us for who we are; weak and powerless. That’s why He saved us (Rom. 5:6). Therefore, let’s be careful about our talk of power, knowing that the only people that have focussed on it through history are the rebels. We, however, serve the Mighty King!

-DMF

Illustration “Twilight of Man” by Tim Huhn

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