Power has been unavoidably on my mind over the past few weeks. Not, I hasten to add because I’m in the middle of a power struggle but because this word seems to sum up a lot about what is happening in the wider world and because it is a key theme running through our Bible teaching
Looking at the world
– The Catalonian Independence declaration was about the balance of power between local, regional government and a national government seen as remote. It was also about the ability to control wealth (note links with Brexit).
– We continue to watch with apprehension the power struggle between North Korea and the USA. This is also about leaders needing to be seen as strong and macho by their domestic audiences.
– The sex scandals in Westminster and Hollywood seem, as we have noted, to be about powerful men using their power to demonstrate control over others for personal gratification.
Listening to God’s Word
– We have moved into a section of 2 Samuel where powerful men use their power to control, shame and abuse other men and women. King David’s ambassadors are shamed by the Ammonites (ch10). David exercises his power by taking Uriah’s wife for himself (ch 11). Amnon uses power to force his half sister Tamar to sleep with him (ch 12). Absalom exercises power by taking his dad’s concubines and publicly sleeping with them. They are victims caught up in a family feud.
– On Saturday night at Nueva Vida we are working through John’s Gospel. Last Saturday I preached on John 12:12-19. Jesus chooses to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, coming in peace. We contrasted this with the image of a Jesus riding a war horse, co-opted into our battles, coming to crush opposition. Jesus did not seek to grasp power. In ch 13, we see Jesus removing his coat, wrapping a towel round his waste and kneeling to wash his disciples’ feet.
– Two Sundays ago, we looked at “Why the Reformation” matters” at Sunday Night Church. We repeated the study with our youth group this Sunday night. A key verse is Romans 1:16 16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” Here we see God’s power at work.
I want to finish with the Romans reference. As Martin Luther discovered, and one of our youth leaders observed, God’s power is so different to human power. God’s power is not seen in macho shows of strength nor his ability to crush opposition (though we must not neglect that he will one day come to judge the living and the dead). Rather it is seen in his love shown to us at Calvary. It is power to forgive. It is seen in the Resurrection, it is the power to raise the dead and give new life.
What power are you seeking?