Purpose of Power
The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated our lives for the past 18 months, but the conversation now has shifted to the debate regarding vaccines. The topic of debate now is whether the government has the power to mandate vaccines to protect its citizenry.
As amazing as it sounds, some claim that mandating masks in public spaces violates their personal privacy or individual rights. We even had misguided church leaders demand special dispensations for churches from limitations on indoor activities of large group gatherings. They erringly claimed that safety measures implemented to limit the spread of a deadly virus violated religious freedom. As puerile as these claims were, the maladroit Supreme Court could not see straight to protect these injudicious pastors from themselves and granted religious institutions exemptions, thus stating that religious leaders had the power to put their people’s lives in danger. Apparently, some on the Supreme Court believed that if you pray, then you can’t get Covid, as some pastors have claimed.
The recent history of U. S. presidents, current Supreme Court members, several governors of southern states, and many anti-vaxxers reveals that the real problem we have in the U. S. is a misunderstanding, and misuse, of power. It appears that they believe that positional authority means they have unabated power to do as they wish. However, we all know the old words of wisdom, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The current worldview of power is diabolically opposed to the biblical understanding. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, talks about how while he had the theological authority to claim his power over the people in the church of Thessalonica, he did not claim it. He did not ask for any kind of financial support but worked as a tentmaker to support his missionary endeavors. Paul used his power to serve the people, not to be served.
Another power relationship that we need to address is between employees and employers. Workers were at one time seen as an important part of a business, but now workers are merely seen as a resource to utilize to make money. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a story of an employer who paid his workers based on the needs of the worker, not the work that was done. Jesus redefines for us the responsibility of the powerful; the power is to be used to care for the powerless.
Power is to be used for the benefit of the powerless, and those in positions of authority are to empty themselves for those whom they serve. The powerful are responsible for caring for the powerless. Those in the position have the responsibility to ensure that the powerless are given power.
In this season of peace, let us work for peace between those with power and those without power by not claiming power but giving up power for the sake of others.