Power Surge

Today the question arose in a Sunday study group: “Does ‘power’ have a positive or negative connotation for you?”  The response was fairly equally split for this group, with about half saying positive and half reporting a negative feeling from this word.  After a very short time, it was decided by most that it could be both positive and negative.  But, I still find it interesting that the first inclination by some was definitely one way or the other.  As I watched faces and body-language around the room, I did not notice anyone struggling to answer this question.  This word, power, has a specific meaning for each of them and it is resolute.

As a positive word, power can mean strength and ability, potential and competence.  We talk about the power of God – as creator, guide and redeemer.  We find comfort in believing that He has created us in the best way possible, leads us by Word and example through a life of richness and fullness, and forgives the errant ways of our hearts, minds and bodies.  This power is awe-inspiring, freeing and transformational.

As a negative word, power can mean control and influence, authority and dominion.  We talk about the power of God – as destroyer or punisher.  Flood and plagues were sent from great power.  This power shows dominance and influence and is transformational.

Whether we view power in a positive or negative light is partly dependent upon our prior experience with it.  Certainly if we have personally felt the power of God at work in our lives or experience the opportunity to affect positive change in the world, then it might be easier for us to feel positive about power.  If we, however, have felt oppressed by someone or had power negatively lauded over us, it may be easier for us to feel negative about power.  So, since the Bible teaches that God is infinitely powerful, how does a personal view of the word power change how we feel about God?

For me, they are separate issues.  I was on the side of negative connotation for power.  This word instantly brings anger to my gut.  It is aggressive and forceful, hurtful and unfair. The first word I mentioned today in our discussion was “oppression.”  I have talked about a piece of music, a dance, or a play or film being powerful, in a positive way.  But, for the most part power to me is antagonistic.  I believe in the power of God, yet, not once have I believed that power to be negative in any way.  I am blessed for that understanding.

It’s important that we pay attention to power in our lives today – how we use our power with or against other people, and how theirs is used with or against us.  It’s important that the only power we allow to truly  influence us is the power of God.

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