Left-Handed Power


I recently had a conversation with someone who firmly believes God uses God’s power to either cause or avoid preventing tragedies in life in order to accomplish some divine purpose. The God who rules with “thunder in his footsteps” and “lightening in his fist,” as the song goes, will rain down cancer, heart disease, automobile accidents, hurricanes and earthquakes to accomplish the divine purpose.

Thus, when a school teacher and mother of two runs her car off the road and is tragically killed, people say: “God has God’s reasons.”

For me, this represents a gross misunderstanding of the power of God revealed through Jesus.

One day, a little boy and a father who were driving down the road admiring a beautiful sunset. The father said to son, “And to think, God created all of this just for us to enjoy.”

The little boy responded, “And to think, God did it all with God’s left hand.”

Puzzled, the father asked: “What do you mean, son? Where did you hear that?”

“Well, the little boy responded, “God had to use God’s left hand, because my Sunday School teacher told me that in heaven Jesus was sitting on God’s right hand.”

As they say, out of the mouth of babes.

The truth is, we have allowed the world to define “power” for us, instead of allowing Jesus to define “power” for us.

To the world, “power” means controlling.  Power means dominating.  Power means taking. Power means ruling.  Power means imposing.

However, the power of God as revealed through Jesus Christ is the exact opposite.  God has what the late theologian Arthur McGill called a “peculiar” kind of power.  You could call it a “left-handed power.”  It is a power of self-expending, self-giving love.

God’s power is not power that takes, but a power that gives.

God’s power is not a power that rules, but a power that serves.

Not a power that imposes, but a power that loves.

Not a power that dominates, but a power that dies.

And as Arthur McGill has written:

This is the reason that it is no accident that Jesus undertakes his mission to the poor and to the weak and not to the strong, to the dying and not to those full of life.  For with these vessels of need God most decisively vindicates his peculiar kind of power, his power of service whereby the poor are fed, the sinful are forgiven, the weak are strengthened, and the dying are made alive (See Reigning from the Cross).

Thus, the moment the school teacher in the accident took her last breath, God did not take her. The best way to explain it is that during that moment, God came and God gave. God came, and in a most powerful way, gave her the very best gift that God has to give, the gift of God’s holy self. God came and gave God’s self completely and eternally to her.

Thanks be to God.

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