“There have been some dark places for me in the church,” said Zach as he led us into his message. “But I also found Jesus there.”
With the Temptation Story of Genesis as a backdrop, we were led down the rabbit hole of power’s capacity to rule us, and to ruin us. We have a choice – we can be determined to be in control, or we can we trust. Turning from Genesis 3 to Romans 10, we learned that the stepping stone to the new set of rules is the reality of a world void of distinctions – no more male, female, transgender, Jew, Gentile, black, white, rich, poor. “Religion” as experienced by Paul was one in which the rule was faith in God and trust in Jesus. That is the only rule – and it applies to “anyone who believes”.
The use and abuse of power by a people or culture is often referred to as “empire“. And while there have been many empires – secular and religious – none have prevailed. By their nature, empires are self-destructive because they tend to oppress the very people their power is dependent upon.
It’s only a matter of time before a person experiences the reality of some external power coming down hard on us. Something or someone forces us to bend to their will. I suppose this “force” is what enables people to be a community, a society in which we can live together. We have to have rules; otherwise we have chaos. But Jesus mitigates the destructive effects of empire by constantly reminding us that power is best expressed when used to serve others.
Zach’s message hit its zenith with his exegesis of Romans 10:12 – There is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. The overwhelming result of power’s hold on us is to cause us to break bad. The constant challenge for the Christian is two-fold. First, can we resist the temptation to control? That is, are we willing to trust God? Second, are we willing to take what power we have and use it to serve others rather than bolster our own ego? Put another way – how will you use whatever power you have to “break good” this week?