Redeeming the Gift of Power

Over the past few weeks, I have been mesmerized by the reshaping of the landscape underway at the northeast corner of our school property. You may have noticed the heavy machinery moving in and out. These machines removed an entire building in a matter of days, and in a few more they moved thousands of pounds of dirt and dug out deep furrows in the ground in preparation for the construction of the Roger Evans Athletic Center. As the job progresses more machines will do more work, each a demonstration of technological achievement and the harnessing of raw power. Anyone who has labored with a set of post-hole diggers or pushed a wheel barrow full of rocks can appreciate the display of massive power exerted over minimal time.

There is something about the good exercise of power that is glorious. It captures our attention, and on occasion, literally stops us in our tracks and begs us to look on in wonder. Yet there is an odd quality to power. The more personal the source of power, the more difficult it is for us to see it as something good to be delighted in. We marvel at the power of the latest smartphone, but somehow find it difficult to be equally enthralled with the power wielded by our boss. We are in awe of the power displayed by a bolt of lightning streaking across the sky, but deeply skeptical of the power invested in our elected officials. Why such different responses to different forms of power?

Here I am deeply indebted to Andy Crouch’s observations in his book Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. He explains that power is a good thing (remember our Lord delighted in his acts of power in creating) that has become corrupted. When power is corrupted we see it as a zero-sum game. If you gain power, I must necessarily lose power. As a result, many simply assume that, at bottom, the driving force in the universe is a struggle for power. The purpose of education, then, is to insure that our children will have more power than other people’s children. When we have this view of power, it is nearly impossible to see the good in it.

This is, in fact, not how the universe works, and we know this because of the greatest display of power in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Think of how Jesus wielded power. He triumphed over the evil forces in the world, not by taking in zero-sum fashion, but by giving himself in love. He turned our zero-sum notion of power on its head, and exercised great power through great humility. He defeated sin and death by relinquishing his power, which paradoxically, became the greatest power of all. He is now exalted at the right hand of God, the King over every king and the Lord over every lord. His great power does not diminish our power, but empowers us that we might flourish.

And this is the difference of Christian education, the resurrection power of Christ. Our goal is not to produce powerful children who can survive in a dog-eat-dog world by exerting power over others. No, as our Lord reminds us, “It shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matt 20:26, ESV). We long for our children to experience the power of Christ, the power over sin in the world, the power to exult in beauty, the power to humbly serve and empower others, the power of God in the world. In short, a power in which there is great delight.


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Posted In Viking Views Blog From Redemption, From Power

Published on by Geoff Stabler.