Friday, 11 January 2008

The Destruction of Power

"You will not die. will be like God, knowing good and evil."

So is the great perennial lie of the serpent in the garden of Eden, the lie that is at the heart of every desire for power. By achieving power, success, wealth, fame and status, we will be delivered from the human condition of ignominy, weakness and mortality, and it will appear that we will live for ever. "You will not die, you will be like God" says Satan's empty promises, but what follows, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, is very real, "knowing good and evil." For this is a power to be achieved by wilfully trampling on the moral law of God that is written on every man's heart, by plunder, force, dishonesty and destruction.

But what has God done, the one who is power itself and it's ultimate origin? The one who created the world and sustains it in being? He has stooped down from the heights above, and not only come to earth, but embraced a human body and soul, with all its weakness, mortality and pain. But surely, if the world is his by right, do we see him claim the very best it can offer, in status, power, birth, wealth and physical attributes?

No. He has condescended to the lowest of the low, choosing not to be born in a palace but in a stable, choosing not the status of a king but that of an outcast. He has become one of us to destroy sin, to renew the earth and confound the wisdom of the world. In his taking on the fullness of the human condition, the whole order of humanity is turned upside down. ‘Blessed are the poor’ becomes reality. No longer is power, wealth, status and success the key to happiness and the kingdom of God, but the very weakness, pain and suffering of our fallen state.

The incarnation is a great sign of hope to those of us who have suffered misfortune, poverty and rejection. He who holds the universe in his hands has become a helpless infant, but an infant that the Magi recognise as their God, the one who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and bring the universe to its completion. No longer are we ruled by fate, but by a providence that has made power vain and empty. For no matter what the powers of this world can do, it will be him who bring everything to completion, who is the Alpha, Omega, the first and the last, the one who was, who is and is to come.

The message of the Gospel and of the divine manifestation was and is a great scandal to the powers of this world. It is no surprise that immediately after the visit of the Magi, King Herod was to bring into being what was the prototype for every single persecution of the church in history. Stay posted!

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