Saturday, June 1, 2013

Power: What Price and Purpose?

Just riffing off of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry from a few months ago...

I was thinking that there is a certain strength in having ordinary weaknesses. In the movie The Amazing Spiderman, people turned into giant lizards capable of terrifying strength and power after being exposed to an airborne chemical. But who would want to be that strong and powerful if they had to become a lizard to get that way? That kind of brute strength is devoid of the sensitivity that being an authentic human entails. It completely lacks aesthetic beauty. It is only capable of destruction, not creation. It wants to control others but cannot control itself. I can't imagine living the limited life of a megalizard. I'm not into city squashing.

In some ways, our true strength grows from our weaknesses: because we cannot do things alone, we must do them together. Our resulting relationships and cooperation leads to healthy inter-dependency. Our weaknesses also remind us to depend on God's strength and to guard against the wrong kind of pride.  

Becoming aggressive (physically or otherwise) can result from using pride, power and position for what they can get for you, not to build devotion to God nor loving relationships. It leads to ultimate downfall.  On the far opposite end of the spectrum,  low self-esteem keeps us passive, paralyzed, and vulnerable to victimization. A healthy self-confidence enables us to step out boldly in service and creativity. We can be assertive, claiming what is rightfully ours while helping others attain their goals, too. This is a win-win situation.

Physical weaknesses, disabilities, and pain can challenge us to come up with creative accommodations, using our brains and hearts to keep accomplishing what our bodies can't do. Work smarter, not just harder. Synergize. Invent. Be aware of the struggles of others so you can show compassion. Use whatever kind of power you have for the good of all.

We should still pursue physical strength and vitality, keep in shape, and get medical help for injury and disease. But we also realize that our inevitable weaknesses can paradoxically plant in us the humble seeds of true greatness. Success is not just handed to us on a golden platter, but is an on-going process requiring effort and cooperation. We learn and grow together as people made in God's image, and overcome the odds through perseverance, effort, and supportive relationships.  

Jesus came among us in the limitations of human flesh, great power constrained and channeled into great sacrificial love. He wants us to have true power, creative power, beautiful power.
 If we want to make a difference in the lives of others, it cannot be by selfishly controlling them. We must love them. Love is the strongest influence of all.


And finally, a little of what the Bible says about power and weakness.

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Romans 15:1

Blessed are the poor in spiritfor theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meekfor they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the mercifulfor they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakersfor they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:3-9

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.  Luke 22:24-26

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength... But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:25,27

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  Hebrews 12:12

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:16-21

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Ephesians 6:10-13


  1. The thumbnail photo of your post on Deidra's link party made me half afraid to click over, but intrigued enough to do so...and I'm glad I did! Great post!