The Poison of Power

Thomas Umstattd is well established as a Christian writer on topics of marriage and fidelity. Of interest to me is his take on power. A quick search on the Internet yields this his take on power:

Power confuses and concerns me.

Here is the paradox:

  • It is hard to do good without it.
  • The more power a man attains, the more evil he commits.

The Problem With Power

I am sure many of us are familiar with Lord Acton’s dictum: about the corruption of power

Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton that the same moral standards should be applied to all men, political and religious “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887)

I would add my own sentiment to this genuine fear of the problem of power. It is impossible to do anything good without power but the more power I attain the more I attribute that power to myself and to those who agree with me.

Jesus recognized this when the crowds approached Him and wanted to make Him King. He avoided and evaded this problem because he knew the heart of mankind. The heart of mankind is to anoint a leader and appoint him or her to carry out the agenda which they desire. The Israelites did it with King Saul and throughout the Old Testament they attempted to time and again to have leadership that catered to their whims and desires.

In Philippians chapter 2 verse 5 we are reminded that we are to have the mind of Jesus Christ. The mind of Jesus Christ recognized that he was indeed co-equal with his Father. But he did not make that part of his agenda on earth. Obedience to the Father’s will and submission to His plan was the only thing that concerned Him. I believe that if His Father, our Creator had commanded Him to come off the cross, He would have done so without questioning. The salvation of mankind would be of secondary importance if He could not please the Father.

His only desire and mission was to complete His Father’s perfect will. He had no desire to establish a kingdom on this earth. He had no desire to rule and reign in the political and religious hierarchy. We keep asking and seeking a Christian nation when Jesus specifically declared in John 18:36: ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’

He did not come to gain public notoriety or fame and fortune. All of these things yield power. And as we have seen throughout history power corrupts. It is impossible to do good without power, but once acquired it takes on a life of its own controlling the most noble-minded spirit. Jesus was well aware of this.

In John’s gospel 2:24 we find these words: but Jesus did not commit himself unto them because he knew all men. Again, in John’s gospel chapter 6:15 we find these words: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.”

In Luke’s gospel chapter 6:26 we find: woe unto you when all men speak well of you.

Power is inebriating. Being close to power is intoxicating. It is addictive and like any addictive substance is poison. It is worse when those around you enable you to flex your muscles and exercise your power for their own benefits.

They wanted to anoint Jesus as King not because of His righteousness, holiness, mercy and grace but only because they felt he could bring them the political conquests which they so desired.

I wonder how intoxicated, inebriated and addicted we are in our present public discourse. If our Heavenly Father said we must die to our own desires in order that we might bring about peace, justice, equity would we be willing to do so. Or would we remain encamped in our political and social positions of power?

We accomplish nothing good without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The cross of Calvary is the epitome of dying to our own desires so that God can accomplish His aim for the tragedies we see unfolding before us every day.

Don’t accept the notion that power will not corrupt you. If you are breathing, you are still susceptible to be corrupted by the power of this present world.

All hearts are corrupt. None of us knows our own hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it?

Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 6:2 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

To choose an earthly king is to reject your Creator. In 1st Samuel chapter 8:7 these words are recorded: and the Lord said unto Samuel hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they sent to thee for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them.

Power is a deadly poison. Avoid it, no matter how good the intentions of those who offer the poison. Let the Holy Spirit rule in your life and take control of your desires for power. Jesus the Christ is the only antidote.