Monday, August 13, 2007

Responsible Power or the Power to Respond

It has long been wondered by many how it is that humanity can be so destructive. The societal ills that have been perpetuated by people up to this very day remain a mystery to those anthropological positivists that assert that civilization is getting better and evolving upward. Outside sources cannot be blamed. These ills have human catalysts at all of there roots. Though technology has certainly progressed, allowing fewer to destroy more; people, in general, are as destructive with their power as they have ever been. This is well explained by the Christian doctrine of universal depravity. Not only are all humans touched by the effects of the great Fall, but all aspects of the human condition are wrecked by it as well; meaning that people are essentially and unchangeably bad apart from divine grace.

Contrastingly, the human capacity for gentleness, kindness, honor, respect and service (supplied solely from God as a vein of his common grace) has remained by and large steady as well. Thus humans possess either destructive ability under their own power, or constructive power supplied by God. The common factor between the two streams of human tendency is the capacity for power created into the human condition. The question is not then, “is that person powerful?” The correct question is, “does that person use their power responsibly?” Or more specifically, “do they use their power to respond in the most helpful possible way to the need directly before them?”

Any that have been married, or had children, know what it is to wield such power. One does not need to live with another person long before observing that the wrong words or right words can have almost immediate effects revealing what manner of power was projected (to build up or tear down, for constructive or destructive ends). In like manner, other situations present themselves everyday in which the use of one’s power is called upon. The negative use of power can gain one an advantage, acquire wealth, reputation or renown. However, the positive use of power in the same scenario can bless the recipient, build up loved ones, redeem a broken relationship or heal a wounded heart.

As I go about my daily activities, I find that opportunities for the use of power are manifold. The college student serving me coffee, the single mom ringing up my groceries, the young man needing a mentor’s encouraging word and the older patron at the post office needing help picking up that box are all possible recipients of the positive use of my power. Christians are simply more aware of the power created within people to bless and serve others around them.

If Christians are more powerful in anyway, it is in their awareness that the needs exist, and that they have, through training, practice and the enabling of the Spirit, learned to wield power over themselves as well. They wield power to suppress their own lethargy, their own fear and capacity for complacency. All humans have the duty to exercise responsible power, but only those who, through training, practice and accountability, (and particularly when enabled by the Spirit) develop the power to respond. It is my hope that as a Christian, I will wield such power over myself as to remain aware of opportunities for service in front of me, and then have such discipline as to use my power for the most constructive outcome possible. Ultimately, I don’t have great faith in myself to carry out such ideals, which is why I am so totally reliant on the use of the God’s power to work through me that which I was created so powerful for in the first place.

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