Friday, March 19, 2010

love and power are not scales 2

Revelation celebrates not the love of power, but the power of love.
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, p 126

This quote is actually part of an excerpt in a recent previous post. I've taken it out here, though, because it's started to remind of some thing from roughly a year ago. A bit from Chalke and Mann's book "The Secret Message of Jesus".

Willard Waller, an American sociologist, spend his life studying people in order to gain an understanding in of the complex interplay that goes on in human relationships. Though he wrote many research papers, his life's work can be summed up in two simple statements:

1. In any relationship one person loves more than another

2. The person who loves the least in any relationship has (the) most power and conversely, the person who loves most has the least power.

These two statements make up his Law of Least Love...
Chalke and Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, p. 182

I responded to this previous. You can see, I hope, how much McLaren's quote echoes that of Chalke and Mann--that there is some kind of balancing act between love and power, an inverse balancing act if you would, wherein the more one 'loves' the less 'power' one has, and the less one 'loves' the more 'power' one has in the relationship. McLaren applies that thinking to the Divine--if the Revelation portrait of Jesus as a warrior is literally and is what will really happen, then love has lost, and power has won; thus, we must discard this view of Jesus as conquering king, and keep before us the view of Jesus one a humble donkey. We must never accept the portrait of Jesus as a warrior, on a war horse, with a sword, coming to kill his enemies and create a veritable lake of blood where carrion birds will feast.

But like the simplifications philosophers create that simply will not work in real life, so this simplification simply will not work. There is no inverse relationship between love and power. A parent is not unloving when exercising power over his or her children. A husband is not unloving in exercising authority over his family. Such authority may be exercised in an unloving way, and no doubt some will be quick to point out the abuses, but the exercise of such authority is not itself unloving; in fact, it could be argued that the real unloving act would be to abandon one's responsibilities, to not exercise the authority inherent in one's position. and to not lead.

And the claim of such an inverse relationship between love and power completely falls apart when applied to God. Yes, no doubt some would point out how Jesus laid aside His glory and humbled Himself, even to the point of crucifixion, and yes, it is something to note. As Scripture notes, God shows His love for us through Christ having died for us, even when we were still sinners. Yet even it had something to do with power, as Hebrews 2:14 states, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--".

Moreover, here is what Revelation says about God and power:
Revelation 4:11
You are worthy, our Lord and God
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.

In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power
for ever and ever!"

And this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power
belong to our God,
for true and just are his judgments."

An awful lot there about God having power for a book that is just suppose to be about the "power of love", don't you think?

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