I have been reflecting on the nature of “power”.
The word “power” has many different connotations to it. We may think of it as strength, force, energy. We may see a leader, national or local, exercise power as they motivate or direct. Power can be used for good or ill in the lives of people.
How do you get power?
In our society, power is often conferred on people through their education, status, position or election. The powerful may have some perceived talent or ability that sets them apart from the rest of us and gives them an authority. In some societies, power is something to be seized and grasped. Manipulation, fear are the weapons that power wields in order to maintain its position. Perhaps the most famous quote on power is attributed to John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 said;
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
So, why have I been reflecting on the nature of power?
Like many ministers, at the moment, I am preparing for Easter. It’s that time when we focus upon Jesus passion, death and resurrection. Throughout it all, we are presented with the God who challenges what the world teaches about power and true power.
Jesus, sometimes referred to in the Gospels, as The Master kneels and washes His disciple feet. The role that would have been taken by the lowest of the low is done by the Lord.
For the Son of Man himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free (Mark 10 vs. 45 – JB Philips)
What Jesus shows us is the correct usage of power. It is not to demand obedience but, rather, it is to be used to serve.
Jesus, could have overthrown those who wanted to destroy Him. He could have called angel armies to His aid and given an incredible demonstration of power. Instead;
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a cross! (Philippians 2 vs. 6 – 8)
I believe that, for us all, there needs to be a re-discovery of the power of service. When we serve, in Jesus name, we demonstrate the power of the Kingdom of God at work in us.
What might that power look like for you today?