Power tools

There’s a song by the Christian rock group, Whiteheart, titled, “Power Tools,” which is from their 1988 album, “Freedom.” The song talks about those who may seem godly in their teaching, but, in reality, in their attempts to handle the power that comes through the written word of God and the Holy Spirit, are just like babies trying to handle power tools.

I was reminded of this song yesterday through once again being drawn to a passage in John’s gospel. Here’s my translation of John 17:17-23: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I also send them into the world, and on their behalf, I sanctify myself, so that they should also be sanctified in truth. I ask not only on their behalf but also on behalf of all who believe in me through their word, so that they should be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so that they also should be in us, so that the world should believe that you have sent me. And I give to them the glory which you have given to me, so that they should be one just as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they should be perfected in oneness, so that the world should know that you have sent me and have loved them just as you have loved me.”

This passage has never been far from my thoughts for the past year, but here’s the reason why I was once again drawn to it yesterday: once again from Jesus’ own mouth:¬†“And I give to them the glory which you have given to me so that they should be one just as we are one…”

Did you grasp what Jesus just said? He told the Father that the very same glory the Father gave to him was the glory Jesus was giving to his followers. Talk about something powerful; talk about the ultimate “power tool.” Now you know why I was reminded of the Whiteheart song.

How well have the followers of Jesus handled the glory?

But before I answer that question, what exactly is that glory?

Here’s how I believe glory should be defined. It is the enhancing of reputation through the power and presence of God being displayed. This is the glory that the Father gave to Jesus.

How did Jesus handle that glory? He used it to glorify the Father. He didn’t use it to enhance his own reputation, but to bring glory to God. His use of that glory revealed and enhanced the unity, the oneness, he had together with the Father. Because of properly handling the glory given to him, Jesus revealed and promoted the unity which he had with the Father.

Now, to the other question – how well have Jesus’ followers handled that glory? The best way to evaluate is to see how well that use of the glory given has brought about unity among believers, a unity that resembles the unity between the Father and the Son, which is exactly Jesus said would be the result because of that glory.

When examined in that light, that glory has been handled no better than how my two-week-old granddaughter would handle the table saw in my woodshop. And that’s a scary and dangerous situation.

And maybe, just maybe, this is why the shoulders of the road which the Church of Jesus Christ has walked is littered with those whom the Church has gravely injured and wounded, and left behind.

And maybe, just maybe, this is why it’s a little bit harder to convince people that the Father has sent Jesus, all because the followers of Jesus handle the glory given by Jesus no better than a newborn handling a power tool.


The peril of having rights

One of the most, if not the most, cherished things about living in America is the rights we have as individuals, rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. We crave those rights, those freedoms, and want to be able to express them.

There is a perilous aspect of these freedoms for followers of Jesus. The peril appears when demanding our rights/freedoms be respected become the top priority. The peril shows itself when what we do is done because we have the right to do it. The peril becomes great when our actions are guided by asserting the rights we possess and the actions we expect from others toward us because of possessing those rights.

Why is there peril?

There is peril because what should be the primary and sole motivating factor changes. The primary motivation for doing something becomes, “because I possess the right to do it and I’m asserting that right.”

Think about Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that Jesus took on human form and did not assert his rights as God, even though he had every right to expect them to be recognized by all: the right to be worshipped, the right to have whatever he desired; the right to be glorified, and so on.

Instead, Jesus allowed himself to be rejected, to be hated, to be mocked, to be beaten, to be killed. Even though he, most of all, had the right to expect his rights to be respected and recognized, he did not assert them in his interactions with people.

His primary motivation for what he did was two-fold: love and glorifying the Father.

When asserting freedom possessed to do a certain thing becomes the primary motivation for an action, followers of Jesus find themselves on a perilous precipice. The Apostle Paul recognized this when he told the believers at Corinth that he would not assert his freedoms as a follower of Christ if doing so would cause someone to stumble.

As people who are followers of Jesus and also are American citizens with rights and freedoms, we must remember that asserting and expecting people to recognize our rights cannot be our motivation for what we do. It must be love and glorifying God.

Let us examine why we are taking the action we are taking. Is it because we have the right as Americans to do so, or is it because of love for a person and an intense desire to glorify God who has an infinitely-large heart for people?