Red Letters

Red Letters

ReThinking Power in Light of Jesus and the Poor

I dare you to read this post on how we use the power we’ve been given and compare it to how Jesus taught us to use power.

This brings us back to the question addressed in my last post, How We Can Change the World. Hunter’s essay II moves into these questions of power. Where does power come from? How do those of us proclaiming to be Christians exert that power? He believes that one of the main centers where Christians find their power is through politics. 

Whether we like it or not, power is a part of everything we do. This is clearly seen in every aspect of culture: “The power that inheres in culture is the capacity to refine what is real in all the ways that reality presses against us. What is truth? What is knowledge and legitimate science? What are the goods worth having in life and the ideals worth sacrificing for/ What is a family? Legitimate sexuality? Friendship? What is moral behavior? Just action? And by the same token, what is inappropriate  and unacceptable behavior and what is abhorrent?” (p. 178).
This forces me to ask a very real personal question. How do I handle power in my own life? And how consistent and true am I to the Biblical commands of Jesus regarding what I do with the power that has been allotted to me? Certainly, because I live in the west, a place of wealth and power compared to the rest of the world, I have even more responsibility regarding how I use power.
“The creation mandate, then, is a mandate to use that power in the world in ways that reflect God’s intentions…power is inherently tainted and its use inherently compromising of the standards to which Christ beckons.” (p. 183). 
I’m not sure I’ve considered power in this light. I have power, to one extent or another. I use it for my benefit, whether aligning myself with a certain political candidate, utilizing money I possess to purchase certain products that I feel will give me more power, even choosing a career that will further what I want to do with me life is a form of exerting power. Even those choices aren’t available to most people living in other countries.
But how am I conforming the little power I possess, to the realities of what Christ taught and modeled about how I should use my power? 
“Through his suffering, death, and resurrection, Christ laid bare the illusions on which worldly power was based…His birth was the world-historical event that ruptured the established structures of power-spiritual, cultural, social, and political-and inaugurated a new reality for humankind. Through his very life, he exposed the true nature of these powers as forces inimical to God’s purposes in creation.” (p. 188).
The bottom line is that Christ changed everything. He redefined power as “powerlessness.” The image of power held by the world was completely shattered by Jesus as He lived a different life that exuded the power of God’s kingdom. 
“Jesus self-consciously repudiated (his) rejection of worldly power. (He) voluntarily bear the humility of becoming a man, but as a man, he took on the nature of a servant. At no time was this more poignantly symbolized and demonstrated than when he washed the disciples’ feet…He was aware of the status degradations he was submitting himself to and the loss of social standing and reputation that he endured by doing so…Yet he embraced these humiliations fully and gladly, never using the power he had to burnish his reputation…Compassion defines the power of his kingdom more than anything else. It was the source, the means, and the end of his power.”
I am convicted by this truth and have to look at my life in light of what Jesus modeled. Of course, I believe this deep down somewhere inside my soul. It’s why I’ve given my life to serve orphans and vulnerable children. It’s why “pure and undefiled religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress,” (James 1:27). But living it out everyday is a challenge. How do I treat others especially those I don’t like or my enemies. Do I love my neighbor as I love myself? Am I generous and giving to those who are in need? I wish I was doing better. But this is what discipleship is about: conforming my life more and more to the life and teaching of Jesus. 
How about for you? How are you using your God-given power? Is this a challenge to live everyday? How do you do it? 
Comments read comments(20)
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Dena Dyer

posted September 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

Great post–convicting, too. Just the fact that we have “power” at all is something to reflect on…and then to use it ONLY as Jesus would. Wow.
You know what’s another temptation? When we use our power for good, to look down on those who aren’t. Satan is so subtle and crafty…sigh. I’m glad I have a patient, merciful Father.
Thanks for giving me food for thought(s!) today.

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Dena Dyer

posted September 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

Wow. This is thought-provoking and convicting.
I think another temptation (from the crafty evil one) is to become prideful about using our power as Jesus would. Sigh. I’m glad I have a patient, merciful Father.
Thanks for the post!

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posted September 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm

– VIDEO: Rabbi Reveals Name of the Messiah… Jesus will return by 2050, say 40pc of Americans… Prophecy Unfolding? Turkey’s New Role in Mideast… THE BIBLE AND THE THIRD WORLD WAR – THE 1000 YEAR KINGDOM… Secrets of the Vatican – UFO’s in the Ancient Art:

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posted September 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm

The broken, empty, lonely, lost,
needy, poor need a Voice who will
speak against hypocrisy, injustice,
sin, and unrighteousness in society!!
The Church needs to be a VOICE OF
TRUTH and take a stand to defend
those who cannot help themselves!!

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posted September 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm

The whole area of letting go of power and control, becoming the last and the servant, and even entering into Christ’s suffering wasn’t something I understood until about a year ago. At that time I had to step back and realize I had a misconstrued understanding of God, Christ, scripture, and life. I stopped, threw out all I knew, and started over again, looking at the word instead of the comfortable distorted things I had been taught. My life has changed, top to bottom and inside out. Is it a challenge? Absolutely! Do I live this well? No, but I am trying, learning, and continuing to see and address each new area. Sometimes that comes willingly, other times it comes with kicking and screaming. What I know is I give more, love more, care more, serve more, and let go more than I used to. So, while I may not succeed by worldly standards, I am working toward completion, not competion.
Great thoughts Tom!

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posted September 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

What a difference when you compare Jesus’s humility to, say, Charles and David Koch, oil multi-billionares who have immense power and use it to, among other things, convince anyone they can humans aren’t causing the earth to overheat.
What hubris to spend millions upon millions of dollars to make their business more profitable for a while, at the very real risk our world will become unlivable.
As I write it’s 113 degrees in LA, a record. And there’s a lot more; here’s only a little of it:
10 U.S. states had their hottest summer on record and all but 7 states were above normal. And summer nighttime heat records were set in 37 states.
June-August global land surface temperature was the warmest on record, 1.80 F (1.00 C) above the 20th century average of 56.9 F (13.8 C) and surpassing the previous record of 1.66 F (0.92 C) set in 1998.
It goes on and on, but these guys spend millions denying what’s in front of us and what the real experts have been telling us.
What would Jesus say? It would be enlightening to find out.

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Tom Davis

posted September 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I think you make a really good point. And yes, Jesus does care for the environment and Christians need to be more aware of what’s happening to our world.

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Tom Davis

posted September 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Good words Dena. Sherie I am with you. The gospel turns everything upside down. You want to be the greatest? Be the servant of all? Want true power? Lay down your life and life in powerlessness. Love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, love our neighbor as ourself!

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posted October 2, 2010 at 9:13 am

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

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posted October 3, 2010 at 7:23 am

It is Christ in who is the hope of glory One has to consider this first if he is to do the things of Christ. It isnt about trying to use a power or or even following the law, these things are associated with the flesh the things of Christ are added to us when truly recieve from God His Spirit as Jsus did in Mat 3:16. Power comes with the holy Spirit. it isnt about trying but it is about recieveing frm God what Jesus recieved from God, Then the power spoken of becomes the natural instead of the supernatural. ist in you is that power, and Christ simply means to be anoionted of Gods SPirit, the anointed one, Christ in YOU.

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Catherine Nagle

posted October 3, 2010 at 8:20 am

Dear Tom, Thank you very much for your insights that always puts me on the right path. I needed this!
I’m beginning to see a little clearer that these challenges as ‘loving our enemies’ are truly the most painful around us all the time and everywhere! Caring and loving the orphans and widows come more easily and naturally to those who follow Christ. As ‘one’ as yourself and His many servants is another pure example as our dearly beloved Saint, Mother Theresa. After reading the cries of her heart in “Come Be My Light” does light and understandings of His servants suffering hearts of love, servitude, and compassion, comes nearer to your words of Truths as well.
I have noticed that others who have ‘not’ a servitude and compassionate heart are the very opportunities to radiate the power of Christ more. This has been and is not at all easy standing on His words with a reassurance that it’s okay to ‘dislike’ anyone that uses power that may bring sorrow or suffering to those around them – But we can with deep gratitude and a debt we owe to His most powerful sacred words of Christ message (one among many) as of Mary Magdalene: “Who amongst us that is without sin may throw the first stone!” His spoken words that were spoken aloud are ‘heard’ regardless of how another may disagree. We may not like the actions of others, but, these are the very things that Jesus Christ gave us: His voice and His compassionate heart to say them again and again…fearlessly! – To love our enemies enough that’ll turn their hearts to God because there will be no other power of keeping our sins hidden. Our compassionate hearts are always serving and pointing the way to Christ. And the only way that it can be, is, that we support others not to fall by speaking His words aloud, fearlessly. We can walk away knowing that we served only Him – And towards those one and the same, which lift us nearer to God, is truly the only power that there is.

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posted October 3, 2010 at 9:50 am

Great post.
I use my power by understanding what it means to be human. I’m not alone so clearly I can see that people are experiencing life I’m many ways. You hurt, I hurt. You feel sad, I feel sad. You misunderstood something, I misunderstand things also. What’s so difficult to understand? We tend to put ourselves above others as if we are not human. So we miss the sweet connection. My power is Love. I am Love & Im going to treat others with all the love that’s within me. 😉

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Elijah A. "NatureBoy" Alexander, Jr.

posted October 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm

The power I am endowed with is of comprehension. Any English writings with a specific meaning intended I am often able to determine their meanings. I use it by sharing that understanding with anyone willing to listen. I don’t force others to accept it not entice them to hear it, I make myself available and when inquire of, presents that understanding.
Since Jesus said about the sower’s going forth to sow, he sows his seeds on any [inquiring] soil but doesn’t stay to watch them grow, it means the germanation of the seeds sown is left up to the soil itself. That is the power I have and my christly use of it.

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Anoop Kumar

posted October 4, 2010 at 4:08 am

Dear Tom:
You are very correct. Powerlessness is the real power. Mahatma Gandhi was a living example of it. He used his non-violence movement to get freedom for India. Mother Teresa was also a living example for compassion and love towards the poor and downtrodden. I am really proud as an Indian because both of them lived in India. Long live non-violence and compassion towards others! If everyone follows their path our Universe will be Heaven!

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posted October 4, 2010 at 7:16 am

Let this same mind (SPirit)be in you who was in Christ Jesus. The real difficulty is putting aside self to do it.

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Your Name

posted October 4, 2010 at 7:21 am

Let this same mind (Spirit) be in you who was in Christ Jesus. The hard part in that is to set aside self to do it. Same Christ in you who was in Jesus.

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posted October 4, 2010 at 4:02 pm

How true…how true. I have not had alcohol since 1985. AA taught me that I was Powerless over that substance. By practicing my powerlessness over that drug I have the Power not to use it. I am constantly learning thru the 12 Steps (derived from Christian predominantly and other wisdom)how to be powerful in other areas of my life by being powerless. Christ said this in the Sermon on the Mount- “the Meek shall inherit… the Poor in spirit….those who hunger and thirst for Righteouness…. etc” All the Powerless in Material Life having all the Real Power. How are we truly free? By turning our Will and Life to the control of another’s Will…God’s Will. The Truth seems full of inherent contradictions but we only perceive them as contradictions because we see as humans see…when we understand how little we really know, how little we can really do, how powerless we are we are practicing Humility. Yet it is this Humility that allows us to really learn and know, to really accomplish and do and to have Real Power from the Source of all Power which is God’s Love. Love form the Deity that is all but trnascends all.

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Linda NaNa BumbleBee

posted October 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

Just as God’s Word of Absolute Truth…& His Son Jesus was…I too will keep this as a “KISS=keep it simple silly”…His Power is within possessing “uncondition love” & “selflessness” towards all…God is the “ONE STEP” PROGRAM & it is a choice for all…THE END +++ :o)

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Marta Daniels

posted October 11, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I believe that one of the challenges we face is in rebuking others who don’t know Jesus. We have a power to be light-holders in this world for Christ, to shine a light on the darkness that is more rampant now than ever before! My coworkers come to me quite often for advice and I try to keep my advice focused on salvation. However, I have to make sure that I don’t come off as conceited and condemning, because alone I am no better than they! Thank God for salvation. God bless.

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Sonja Johnson

posted November 17, 2010 at 8:35 pm

We show our power by walking in love as Jesus did and as we are
commanded to do. Love is the greatest power on earth and God gave
it to us freely. He intended us to walk in it daily,showing it to
all we come in contact with. whether it’s a smile, a kind word.
Or helping some one who is in need or less fortunenate than we are.
What we put out there we get back double, for God is love and we
can’t out give God. All we can do is be the best person we can
be and God will do the rest it’s His promise to His children.
I’m grateful I know the truth. God is good and Jesus is Lord Amen.

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