May 21st, 2019
The way that we understand power involves the ability to conquer, to dominate, and, if necessary, even to kill. When we ponder on who is the more powerful between two people, we ask questions like “Who is stronger?” “Who is faster?” “Who is smarter?” Why? Why are these the questions and criteria that inform our rankings of power? It’s because these are qualities that can all work to elevate one’s ability to exert power over another: to conquer, to dominate, to kill.
Throughout history, we have projected this notion of power onto our created gods: Zeus, Wotan, Amun are gods and we are not for precisely the reasons that they are superior to us in strength, in knowledge, and in their sheer capacity to exert their wills on others. We believe they are worthy of praise because our perception of power elevates them far above ourselves.
The grand reversal of the world’s understanding of power enters into our realm through the person of Jesus Christ. The cross reveals to us what the power of God looks like (1 Corinthians 1:18). The ultimate power of the universe is shown to us not by how effectively we can subjugate our enemies, but by how willingly we can die for them. The way up is down. The thunderbolts of Zeus bow down to the blood and sweat of the servant. It is the crucified carpenter, not the militant conqueror who overcomes the world.