Step into the Garden
Stay in this city until you have been clothed with power.
Most of us want to be respected. So much so that we are not above voicing the cliché, “I don’t care if they like (love) me, I just want them to respect me.” People who believe this, who say this, are almost always in some authoritarian position. Speaking of those who report to him, the boss says, “They don’t have to love me, but you better believe they are going to respect me.” Yeah!
Regrettably, this is human power, its coerciveness driven by sanction. The policeman with the badge, with the gun, with the bullets, with the threat to incarcerate; the boss with the authority to terminate your services – whoever, with the power to punish. This is the power to control, manipulate and coerce. Because of the human predilection for darkness, it is sometimes appropriate. Still, owing to this same predilection, it is all too easy for it to become the power of arrogance, and power for the sake of power.
Is this what Jesus meant? I don’t think so. For centuries, students of the Bible interpret these words of Jesus as meaning the power of the Holy Spirit. Through these same centuries, Religion has interpreted this as the power to convert; the power to heal; the power to coerce repentence; the power to excommunicate. The sanction of organized religion -- excommunication -- is a sanction of fantasy. No man on earth has the power to keep another from eternal life, or eternal death.
But since God is Love, and since the Spirit is God; does it not follow that these two Persons being equal to each other; the power of which Jesus speaks, is the power of Love?
Is there a greater power?
Of all the garments hanging in my spiritual closet, the one with which I most seek to clothe myself, is the power of Love. Love is the most coercive energy in human experience, far more powerful than the authority of sanction, and far deeper than mere respect.
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