We fear being powerless because the temptation to use power to our advantage also has a reverse effect, in that the very power we wield can also be used on us.
"Peace through Power" was the government's motto during the formative years of my youth. The thought was if we out spend the rest of the world on military and weapons we'd be in a better position to flex our power abroad.
Later on in life, I'd come to understand that with such power came great responsibility; one that we as a nation and especially our government would constantly fail to uphold. I say this because we still have not attained peace. This is not the complete fault of the government or the people we put in charge. The very idea itself is flawed.
Now, as our government renews the rhetoric to increase spending on its military muscle, I can't help but think about a small but powerful verse in a Psalm that states, "The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace" (Ps 29:11).
We all fail in nearly all areas of life when we seek peace through our own hands. Historically speaking, this has never worked with any government, or relationship. We do not own our power, nor do we have any real power to lord over others. Such thinking inevitably makes us slaves either to power itself or to the power of others. It's a no-win situation. Unless...we give in to the power of God, which gives us strength...and peace.
Power, in my humble opinion, is the greatest temptation we struggle with because of what it does to us. Let's face it, no one wants to be weaker, dumber, poorer, less talented, or less anything than other people. Our fear of being powerless is real because just as we use power to our advantage, power can also be used on us. And most likely it will be. There will always be someone stronger. But there will also always be someone weaker.
Lent is a time to struggle and fail with those temptations in life that have power over us. As you seek to fast from those powers, you also need to balance it by feasting on something that will empower you to overcome the temptation. The question you might wish to ponder is this: "Do I chose the power of the world (money, fame, strength) that limit my ability to find true peace and love, or do I wish to give over my power completely to the power of God's love and peace that is steadfast, righteous, and never-ending?"
During your Lenten journey, might I suggest you place your focus and prayer on being slaves to the power of God, for I believe this is the only true power which is fair and just. It is a power that seeks to save, not harm the individual. It is a power that draws us all together, instead of dividing the weak from the strong. It's a power that turns the world upside down.
Such a power we all possess. It's been planted within us since the beginning of time. As we are made in the image of a Divine Creator, so too are we made with the same power and glory as the rest of Creation. Through our intentional prayer, meditation, and application we become part of that power. We begin to understand how it builds up a defense of peace and joy, even in the midst of chaos.
The irony, if you will, is the one way to increase this power is by giving it away freely to others until we have given ourselves over completely to the power of God's faithfulness and mercy. What is the cost? To paraphrase Jesus, "We must lose our life in order to save it" (Mt. 10:39; 16:25).
This is the opposite of what I was taught as a child. But this is the way of God. The way to real power that equals peace.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”