Left-Handed Power

okalhoma sunset

I recently had a conversation with someone who firmly believed God uses God’s power to cause 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 earthquake to accomplish the divine purpose.

For me, this represents a gross misunderstanding of the power of God. Although the Bible insists over and over that our ways are not God’s ways, we insist on equating God’s power with our concept of worldly power.

One day, a father was driving down a road with his little boy 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.”

“What do you mean, son? Where did you hear that?”

“Well, 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 the Jesus we remember in this season of Lent to define such power.

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 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.”

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