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Power Under Control

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders… Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” -Isaiah 9:6-7

You find out a lot about what is really in a person when they are given power over others.

In the movie, “Maleficent” (spoiler alert), the main character (unsurprisingly named Maleficent) turns out to be both the hero and the villain. She is given incredible power and strength, and in her youth she is a graceful, kind creature who brings joy and protection to her people, but once she is hurt by a human, she becomes the dread of those she rules over. It really struck me how in her immense strength she had so much influence in the lives of others- first to help the utterly helpless, and then later to bring those same creatures into bondage and fear.

All throughout scripture, it becomes abundantly clear that humans are not very good at handling power either. Take almost any man with decent character in the Bible, then make him a king, and then it is only a matter of time before a major blunder, or even an ultimate downfall.

Then Jesus, the ultimate King, said “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”. He went on to be the only person who never abused any of the power He was given. He was the essence of meekness, since He was more powerful than any other person in history, but willing and able to bring that power under control for the good of others. Jesus always used His abilities to help others in acts of pure selflessness. Many times He was presented with the opportunity to use His deity to His own advantage, but He didn’t so that He could show us the model for humanity (Philippians 2:5-8, Matthew 4:1-11, Matthew 26:52-54).

When the disciples clearly did not pay attention to His example of humility and service, He explained to them more explicitly, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27) Then He followed up His words by washing all of their feet, which was unthinkable for a master or a Rabbi to do for their servants or students.

Even more remarkably, when Jesus was being beaten, mocked and questioned, he “gave them no answer” (John 19:9) Can you imagine the most powerful being in the universe subjecting Himself to scorn and ridicule, and not even opening His mouth to say anything in response? What self control and grace He displayed! I personally cannot imagine doing anything of the sort. Truly, “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)

I always picture Aslan in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” quietly and submissively walking through the crowd of evil dwarfs and up to the stone table, when he could have so easily fought away the whole mob. What power Jesus held to be still, and endure, and serve!

How often do we thirst after power, and seek it, and the moment we get it use it for our own good rather than looking out for our neighbor? How often do we use the abilities and capacities we are given in selfish ways that hurt others, or tear them down rather than lifting others up? How many times do we forget that true leadership is found in servanthood, in laying down our lives for one another?

This really has caused me to ponder: In what ways do I have special abilities, or in what ways do I have power over other people? How am I currently using these abilities or roles of leadership? In what ways could I serve better, or curb the benefits I might receive from my own efforts or roles? Am I truly willing to suffer or be dishonored without lashing out or seeking my own interests?

Jesus help me to be meek, and in the rare moment that I am strong, help me to know that I really am weak. Help me to follow your example of humility and servitude, and remember how fragile I am, and how recently I last needed help from you and others. Show me your heart, that condescends to us to meet us on our level. Thank you Jesus for your great gentleness you’ve shown me all my life!

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