A Position of Power
Power can be a dangerous thing.
In the hands of Hitler, power led to World War II.
In the hands of Nick Leeson, power led to an £800million debt and a crashed national bank.
In the hands of too many sports people, the need for power has led to doping scandals which seem to never end.
It doesn’t matter whether we are a world leader, financial trader or sportsperson. At whatever level we operate, power can be a vehicle for destruction. I imagine that this is the reason that so many people in a position of power hold on to their power so tightly; if we control the power surely we can guard ourselves from it.
It is also why I find Jesus’ approach to power so unusual.
Think about when he met the Samaritan woman at the well.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink? (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) — John 4:v7-9 (NIV)
I find it interesting how much Jesus shocked the Samaritan woman with such a simple question; it shows us a lot about the culture of their society.
Society saw Him as a man and her as a woman, who were deemed less important, so Jesus would have been in the position of power.
Society saw Him as a Jew and her as a Samaritan, who Jews looked down on for the way they worshipped God, so Jesus would have been in the position of power.
But when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He started the conversation by turning the table and putting who society called his enemy in the position of power. By asking her for a drink he was putting himself in a place where she had what he needed first, not the other way around.
A quick Google search lists hundreds or thousands of self-improvement articles which aim to help you ‘reclaim your power’ – yet Jesus was happy to give his power away freely.
Why would he do this when he knows that really He is the one that has what the Samaritan woman needs?
Can you imagine how the Samaritan lady would have reacted if Jesus had just walked up to her and offered her his living water from this position?
Firstly, by putting the Samaritan woman in the position of power Jesus was showing her that he didn’t see her in the same way that society saw her.
Society lessened their identities to ‘Jewish man’ and ‘Samaritan woman’.
Jesus saw their true identities as so much more.
The difference here is that the Samaritan woman focused on the things that separated her and Jesus, when Jesus came to unify these things.
There are a couple of lines from the Godfrey Birtill song, Two Thousand Years Ago, which I love:
Now every distance has been cancelled in Christ,
And separation’s an illusion a lie
So great is the love that He’s lavished on us.
Also, by breaking down the barrier between them, Jesus put them in a position to build a relationship, which would later lead to her life, and the lives of many people in her town being changed by their encounter with Jesus.
I’m sure Jesus knew that power could be dangerous, but he also knew that power could be life changing.
Whatever area in our lives we have power in, whether it’s at home, work, in church, or in the community, we could hold onto it tightly and use it to keep us in a safe, secure environment.
Or we could hold it loosely, give it to others and empower them to reach situations they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.
It might be more dangerous, but it also has the potential to be life changing.