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Have you noticed how prominent the proclamation of power has become in our American culture? In advertisements, we can have power over certain diseases by the use of various medicines. Somehow, that is different than taking medicine to help us. Men who were once stronger than women (and still are), can now be knocked out by women with a punch or a kick—in the movies, that is. People who consider themselves oppressed desire power over their oppressors. Folks want power in the public square. Violent mobs want power. And politicians—well, we already know about them.

If we don’t possess much power, we want to be near or associated with those who do. Nothing approaches that desire in the human experience. It is intoxicating. We are exhilarated if we do anything that boosts our status, and thus our power, even if for a few seconds. “Here’s a picture of me standing next to Taylor Swift!”

We are told we can exert power if we just work together. We can accomplish anything. However, the people who tell us such things are the powerful ones who want to lead us. I am now thinking about the folks who built the Tower of Babel. They accomplished quite a bit together, didn’t they?

Where is that tower again?

This is the way fallen human nature thinks. To them, having personal human power is the end all and be all. In our histories, those who are extreme have used violent means to obtain it.

However, Christians are not to desire human power.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:6–7).1

Jars of clay. Not a powerful image, is it? Pretty easy to break, those clay pots.

The biblical truth about power is upside-down from the world’s understanding. We are to be weak.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8–10).

These are clear words from God’s mouth to Paul’s ear. “My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Upside-down.

Should this surprise us?

Jesus, God Almighty in the flesh, humbled Himself.  He lowered Himself by taking the form of a servant and becoming obedient to death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Dying is the weakest thing that a human being can or will ever do. There is nothing weaker than that. Yet, Jesus, by doing that which is weakest among humankind, did the strongest thing that can be done in the universe. He reconciled all the created order to Himself. He made it possible for poor, sinful schlumps like you and me to become the very sons of God. To be brothers with Him. To share in His eternal inheritance.

So then are we, in and of ourselves, powerful?

No, we are not. Even mighty nations, in God’s eyes, are just dust on the scales (Isaiah 40:15). What does that say, then, about nations’ leaders? How powerful are they? So, how should Christians in positions of power lead? We really have only one example. Our King. He is humble, merciful, and kind. How should Christians in high places follow His example? There is only one answer. It sounds too simplistic, but it is true. Pray and ask for help. But this isn’t a difficult ask, is it? We all need to do that.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

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