Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sobering up

I visited Praise Tabernacle last Sunday, around the corner from where I live. I couldn't stay for the preaching because I had to go with a friend to a lunch at an AME church in Granada Hills, but I got something out of the song service.

The first song praised the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6) for His power and holiness, and I got to thinking. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, people don't eat people because they don't know it's wrong; they do it because they DO know it's wrong. We soothe our feeling of helplessness and make ourselves feel strong by doing evil and enjoying our power to get away with it. Thus powerless Palestinians blow up kids in a pizza parlor, Israeli snipers pick off little kids for fun, and American soldiers enjoy breaking bottles on the heads of people in the street - all of these finding relief for their frustration through doing evil acts. Doing evil because we can, we prove to ourselves and others that we're powerful.

Of course all these deeds worsen our case and weaken us in reality. Israelis are not softened by exploding pizza parlors, Palestinians and others are not inclined to honor an army that condones the cold-blooded murderers of little girls, and those bottles do not inspire those they hit to think of ways to ease the lives of those who throw them.

God isn't thrilled like us by having the power to do evil. God is thrilled by having the power NOT to do evil. He is pleased to exercise the power to let people slap His other cheek. God gets a kick out of being able to be powerless and win anyway. He is mighty, as they were singing, in power and in holiness. He knows that his weakness is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:22-31).

His promise is that we can learn to see it His way, to have in us the mind that was in Jesus, and therefore to become like him. We're actually called by Him into that same divine nature, and that's what makes us truly human. The proverb says that it is sport to a fool to do evil, but so is wisdom to a man of understanding - and we can acquire from Him that understanding and learn to live that way (James 1:5-6).

It was good for me to see how much I've soothed my powerlessness in life by exercising my power to get away with malicious acts to prove to myself that I have power after all. It's drug addiction. It's not a pretty sight, but the snare is laid in vain in the sight of any bird, so I'm glad to see that snare in my soul. When I do evil, I always turn out to be my own target. To stop hurting myself feels all right.


Anonymous Ron Smith said...

Thank you Peter for your post on Nathans site. It helped me alot.

3/09/2006 8:40 PM  

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