We live in a day that is not so different than any previous day. We want power because power is the way the world seems to work. Power can come in many forms.
- Power can be athletic power. Not just strength athletes have. But the notoriety that comes with it. Pictures all over the sports page. Endorsement deals. Billboards with their faces on it.
- Power can be gained by good looks. Some are powerful in this world simply because they are beautiful or handsome. It’s a burden I’ve had to carry since birth.
- Power can be yours if you are intelligent. Einstein was not known for his looks or athletic ability. But his gray matter mattered.
- Power can come to the famous. With the growth of social media and reality TV some are famous for just being famous. They don’t have to contribute much of anything to society other than a tweet about where they are eating for lunch.
- And power is in the hands of the rich. If you can fund your own political race you can run for president. You can get noticed.
That’s the way the world works. Unfortunately, that’s the way the church in America has worked too. It thinks:
- “If we can just get our athletes to speak up for God, then we will look powerful.” Don’t believe me? Would you rather sit down with a refugee who has faith or with Tim Tebow?
- “If our preachers and staff look healthy and have megawatt smiles we can attract more people.” Churches would never admit it, but look at staff pages on the web. Some try to outdo each other in looking good and witty and fun.
- We think: “If we can be the ones who have the Scriptures all figured out and have all the right answers then power is ours.” Some position themselves as the ones who understand the Scriptures the best and are here to uphold the truth.
- “If our leaders are known on the speaking circuit or have authored books or released a CD then we feel much better about ourselves.”
We see the desire for power most when we look at our American politics. The Christian base gets nervous if someone who does not fit into the Christian mold appears to be the front runner. Fear sets in and hope fades. When it does we want to grab any power we can.
Power is the way of the world. And we want it.
Jesus says the way of his kingdom involves sacrifice. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
When Jesus talks about “whoever loses his life” he meant die. Dying does not look powerful. Jesus did not look like he was the one in power as he carried his cross to Golgotha. The Roman government looked powerful. The religious system of his day looked powerful.
But Jesus practiced what he taught. He denied himself and lost his life for the sake of the kingdom. And you know how the story ended. After three days he rose. His lost life was “found.” And last time I checked his kingdom is still going strong.
Maybe we’ve got this whole “power” thing backwards. The church has always excelled when it was in the margins. Whenever it looks like it has power in the world’s sense it usually loses its way.
But when the church is depleted of the world’s kind of power it looks to the source of ultimate power. And according to Jesus that power is found in sacrificial love.
You won’t find your life by holding onto it. Let go today and live.
Question: How can you exhibit sacrificial love today?