Jonathan's Perspective  

Mar 13

'The Problem and Potential of Power'

If you asked many people today whether power is a good thing or a bad thing, most would say power is bad.  They've been jaded by local, state, national, and international politics in which people have used power to force their agendas, illegally enrich themselves, or been down-right tyrants.  There is a skepticism toward anyone in power.  Many people think the same of business interests and corporations--they see fraud, grotesque pollution of the environment, and 'bottom line thinking' that is not ethically moored. 

A solution often put forward is to use power to bully and shame, even confiscate an individual's earned money.  Some want to wage war on 'The One Percent'.  They assume the worst of human nature, that anyone who has something must have stolen it from someone else.  (They seem to have missed Economics 101 about free exchange of goods in which both side feel like they received something of equitable value.)  However, we don't need to look too far to accuse someone of abusing power.  It takes so little power to go to our heads.  With the little power we have, we may enjoy making someone do something, or don't check our angry words.  We might despair.  Is the Machiavellian manipulative and brutal use of power the only way?

No.  Look to Jesus.  Jesus did not eschew power.  He understood it and embraced it.  He used his power for the Kingdom of God. 

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, 

and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 

so he got up from the meal, ... and began to wash his disciples' feet." (John 13:3-5)

It was out of Jesus' power that he served.  Jesus healed the sick, preached to the crowds, fed the multitudes, influenced the legal system toward grace, raised the dead, and cleansed the Temple.  Jesus used - his power to preach and enact the Kingdom of God.  And Jesus was not tyrannical with his power; he did not force people to repent, but invited them into the blessed Kingdom of God.  Also, Jesus did not try to amass all the power he could and tightly control it.  In fact, he freely gave his power away.  He trained his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to do three things: heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the good news.  He trained seventy-two others to go do the same.  He so empowered them that they came back saying, 'We saw Satan fall like lightening!'  Jesus freely entrusted his power for others to proclaim and enact the Kingdom of God breaking onto the world scene in a new and powerful way.

Jesus understood and embraced his power.  He knew that all things were placed under his power, and so - he handled this sacred trust as only one who is fully led by the Spirit of God.  While we are not Jesus the Son of God, we are led by the Spirit of God, and given power to enact the Kingdom of God to serve those in our families, at work, and our neighborhoods.  God has given you the sacred trust of power and the Spirit to guide you to use it to serve others.  Are you using your talents, influence, and spiritual gifts to serve?  Are you willing to give your power away so that it can be multiplied?

Seeking 'life that is truly life' (I Tim 6:19),


Dr. Jonathan Beck

1201 Metairie Rd.,

Metairie, LA 70005

(318) 219-6512

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