What is it about earthly power that is so seductive? We quickly recognize the world’s addiction to power, and the problems that come as a result. But Christians face the same temptation to trust in earthly power. We focus on winning legislative and political victories. We focus on financial and administrative resources. We focus on defending our rights as Christians. We want our tribe to be in the driver’s seat of culture.
But it is hard to proclaim, “blessed are the meek,” and “the last shall be first” when we are putting so much effort into obtaining or preserving power. It is hard to say with Paul “when I am weak, then I am strong,” if we assume we can only make a difference from a position of strength.
This is not a new problem. In 1 Samuel 8, Israel demands that Samuel appoint a king for them so they can be like the other nations. They have just seen God defeat the Philistines on the battlefield, and have set up an Ebenezer stone to remember His mighty deeds. But shortly thereafter they are crying out, “There shall be a king over us, that we may also be like the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam. 8:19-20). Despite repeatedly seeing the mighty power of God, they are still inclined to trust in earthly power.
As we prepare to hear God’s Word from 1 Samuel 8 this Sunday, let us all prepare our hearts by reflecting on some self-examination questions:
1) What forms of power am I drawn to? Financial power? The power of influence? The power of control?
2) What lies at the heart of my attraction to earthly power? Why is it often easier to trust in earthly power than God’s power?
In Christ, we see clearly the difference between the kings of this world and the King of glory. In Him, the fullness of deity took on flesh and blood. Yet, He emptied himself for our sake. Through sacrificial love, He broke the power of sin and guaranteed the final restoration of all things. Through self-giving love, He accomplished what a political or military Messiah never could have.
Power is not inherently evil. God has entrusted all of us with a limited amount of power and influence to use for His glory. But this stewardship should lead us to trust more in God Himself, not in earthly power structures.