Nearly 130 years ago a British historian named Lord Acton accurately described the selfish heart of man. In a moment of brilliant clarity he penned, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The thirst for power is the result of free will that is unrestrained by submission to another, or to love. This attitude creates a desire for the ability to manipulate, persuade, coerce, or force our will on others. After all, the heart wants what the heart wants!
That kind of absolute power tends to end destructively. It’s seen throughout history; from Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperors to men like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Their ends brought nations to ruin in their wake! Even in democracies, where power is scattered among many rather than wielded by one, its insatiable nature is seen in those who pursue it. For instance, Donald Trump is a man who has employed the use of power in the social and financial arenas of our society. Even though he’s exercised power before he appears to be intoxicated with the taste of the power of persuasion. He basks in the euphoria and notoriety that comes from saying what people want to hear.
The kind of power that men pursue as they work to control their surroundings and fate is not only short-lived, but completely elusive and unable to truly be possessed. This is something all power mongers learn the hard way. Whether it’s a spoiled child or an aging dictator facing his own mortality, in the end we discover that we are really powerless!
The Bible declares that God is the All-Mighty One; in Him resides all power and authority, which would seem to be corrupting if it weren’t for the fact that God is love. Real power can only exist in the atmosphere of love and self-sacrifice, because only through love is selfishness absent and life flows rather than destruction.
Love is the very character and nature of the Triune God; unleashing power potent enough to create the universe, merciful enough to forgive any wrong, persuasive enough to touch and soften the heart and stable enough to sustain eternity!
As we live our lives being continuously filled with the Holy Spirit, that same power abides in us as we learn to walk in love, touching this broken world with the real power of the gospel. The love-conquered people of God are the real absolute power brokers of the world, bringing lasting change and redemption where hopelessness and sin once ruled.
How exciting to be His people,
Pastor David Vanderpool