One Sunday a few months ago, one of the pastors of the church I am part of asked the question, "What value does your life revolve around, the love of power, or the power of love?" Whichever one is the driving force in your life will dramatically affect how you live your life, and I believe it will also significantly impact the degree of happiness you experience.
The love of power comes from a fear of not being enough or of not having enough. At its core is a sense of insufficiency, inadequacy, and lack, whether conscious or unconscious. Sometimes it's subtle and is disguised by actions that may appear loving but are actually attempts to control what happens or what someone else does or says. Sometimes the love of power is really obvious, like someone bolstering their sense of self at someone else's expense, or doing things to seek to portray self-importance. You've heard the saying, "It's either my way or the highway," and that is a core belief of someone whose life rotates around a love of power. We can easily recognize this belief in various places of conflict and war around the globe, and here in our country, it is glaringly evident in the world of politics today. But it can also be seen in places you would assume would be focused more on the power of love, like churches, hospitals, schools, and other places where a desire to help people is the mission of the organization. In fact, you can find the love of power any place where there are human beings who have never owned and dealt with their own brokenness.
The power of love comes out of a genuine caring about someone else, as evidenced in a willingness to allow my needs to sometimes be second to your needs. It's seen in a respect for another person, regardless of whether they think, believe, or act the same way I do. It also operates out of a genuine desire for peaceful means of resolving conflict rather than a show of force. The highest standard of love, though, is seen in scripture, "Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth." (I Corinthians 13:4-6) Where have you see that kind of love in the past? Where do you see it today?
As I write this blog, Christmas is only 6 days away. and no matter where I go, I see signs of people starting to celebrate the joy and wonder of this season. Though there are many wonderful traditions around the world, at its core, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of a tiny baby who came into this world to bring love, not power. Jesus was not born in a grand and magnificent palace, but in a stable among barn animals. This baby's first introduction to the world was to a group of lowly shepherds who were seen as unclean and unholy by the religious and powerful of his day. As an adult, Jesus spent most of his 3-year career hanging out with the poor, the sick, and the needy. He loved broken, dirty people who were not highly educated. He didn't care about the color of someone's skin or what their gender was, or if they obeyed all the religious rules and regulations of his time. He loved and helped them anyway. Throughout his career, he consistently resisted being put in the position of power but rather, chose to act out of the power of love.
Even though that baby grew up to become the most powerful person the world has ever known, the end of his life was still not about power, but rather, was about giving up his life to bring love into a world starving for it. Literally, he was God who chose to leave the power of heaven to become one of us, to take on the form of humanness, to live among us, and who grew up to become the only one who truly was powerful enough to defeat the power of death.
As you celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus this year, my hope for you is that you will search your heart and mind and ask yourself, "How much does my life revolve around the love of power, or around the power of love? And what are some ways I can choose love?"