In the beginning there was power, and that power was good. God, as creator, held the power, but he also delegated it to humanity. Adam and Eve, our earliest parents, received power before sin entered the picture, and it was all very good.
For some time, humanity lived like this. Man and woman walked side by side with the God who “determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure”(Psalm 147:4-5). They had perfect power dynamics: God as God and people as people.
Then sin entered the story, and now you don’t have to look very far into the cultural landscape to see that many people today, Christians included, regularly abused their power. We have followed in the footsteps of our ancient parents, attempting to take for ourselves what rightfully belongs to God. His power that ought to lead us into worship, instead leads us to envy. We, like the people at Babel, think we can rise to God’s level, enter into the Heavenly realms ourselves, take the power that belongs to Him.
As Christians, what are we to do with this? How should we view power? Do we reject it and write it all off as bad? Are we just supposed to swim in the streams of the cultural current and share the same view of power as the world does? Or should we consider how we can redeem power back?
While it’s important to understand that God is the One from whom all power comes, we also need to realize that he gives power to His people. Throughout scripture, we see that He gave power to
Adam (and subsequently to us) over creation (Gen. 1:26)
earthly rulers and authorities (Romans 13:1)
loving husbands as heads of their families (Col. 3:18-19),
parents over their children (Col. 3:20).
all Christians to carry out the mission of the church (Matt. 28:20, Acts 1:8)
church elders over local church members (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
While this list is not exhaustive, it gives us an idea that God does in fact give power to people.
Scripture shows us that power in and of itself is not bad, but the way we use it often is. When sin entered the narrative, humans chose to pursue knowledge that wasn’t meant for us, thus reaching for power that isn’t properly ours.
But luckily the narrative doesn’t just end there. As the story continues, we see that God continues to extend His grace to His people, despite their regular rebellion against Him. Eventually, Jesus even comes and saves the sinful people, purchasing them back from the bondage of sin by paying the cosmic price with his life.
Now, Christ is in the process of making all things new. His blood redeems those who follow Him, and as new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), we can view power in a new, redeemed way, demonstrating to the rest of the world what a proper vision for power can look like.
A Vision for Redeemed Power
When it comes to our view of power, we should really consider how Jesus viewed and handled power during his earthly life and ministry. In Philippians 2:5-8 we read what seems like a short blurb about Jesus’ life, but if we look closely we will see how he handled power.
From these verses it is clear that Christ used his power to serve others - he took the form of a servant. He did not lord his power over people. He did not demean others. He did not rule over people with an iron fist. He served. He took the power that he possessed and used it for the good of others, even laying it aside and dying on the cross. If we are to follow him, then we must view power in this way and handle it in the same manner that Christ did. This looks like a father and mother exercising power over their children in a way that is loving and testifies to the kind of love that Christ has for his people. Non-married men and women can embrace the unique power of singleness laid out by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. For a husband, to handle power that way that Jesus did means that we seek to honor, serve, and protect our wives. If you are a boss who has people that work under you this works itself out by using your power to build your employees up and set them up for success in the best way possible.
The list can go on and on, but the bottom line is this: in order for Christians to show what it looks like for power to be redeemed then we must handle it in a way that benefits those around us and glorifies God at the same time.
Cory Rankin currently lives in McKinney, TX. He is husband to Kristy and father to Gryffin and Ada. Cory currently serves as student pastor at The Parks Church McKinney and is a student at Spurgeon College. He loves reading theology, history, biographies, but his favorite thing to read on is ecclesiology. His greatest desire is to help people see the glorious realities of God found in the Scriptures.