I have written before about power before looking at the principalities and powers as seen by Matt 22.15-22. (Power I and Power II)Distinguishing the three world powers in the story, I went on to look at the powers represented by money, popularity, and control. These meditations have continued to preoccupy me, especially in the current environment. What came to me is that those three powers are easy to identify in our culture by the geographical names we given them. The powers of money we sum up by calling it Wall Street. The power of popularity we call Hollywood. Finally the power of control or Government, we call Washington. Wall Street, Hollywood, and Washington are the powers the Pharisee tried to capture Jesus with their riddle of paying the Roman tax. These powers have their own spirit and are part of what Paul called Principalities and Powers.
When I was at Fuller, there was a concerted effort to use the power of Hollywood to proclaim the Gospel. If get Hollywood to make the right movies, television, and music, then we could convert the culture into a Christian culture. There were initiatives to engage Hollywood by opening up dialogs, programs for Christian screenwriters and actors. Another camp claims that any attempt to convert the culture is fools gold and that we should make every effort to avoid culture. If we engage Hollywood and the power of popularity, then Christians open themselves to be corrupted. The allure of Hollywood and fame are powerful. I remember meeting a roommate’s friend, who came to Los Angeles to peruse a career in Hollywood, and called the chasing the career as her ministry. I was never quite convinced about her conviction of ministry, though I could see her longing for fame. About the question, I realized both camp gave Hollywood the power. The power to convert if Christians harness it or the power to corrupt Christian if they got too close both reveals a trust in that power, rather a trust in the power of the Trinity.
I have seen similar attempts or beliefs about use the power of Washington, or the power of Wall Street for the proclamation of the Gospel. If we could get Christian politicians or Christian businessmen, then we can convert the whole. Christian politicians will give us Christian policies and then the Kingdom of God would be at hand. Again, Washington and the power of government are thought to be were true power manifests itself. I remember once attending a program about a missionary program. The missionary shared about an African pastor experience of preaching, and founding churches and helping people pull themselves out of poverty by various methods. He end his story by asking us, and he called us the “princes and princesses of the Church” to help. Why did he call us the “princes and princesses of the Church,” because we have the riches. Again, we believe true power comes from money.
If we have learned anything from the last month, it is that these powers are not true power. Wall street is in meltdown and Government seems powerless in the face of this. As I wait the birth of my child, I understand true power. Life is sustained by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said render what is God’s to God. If we are to experience power, we experience it by loving our neighbor.
Part I Jesus answers the Public, Economic, and Political powers
Part II Jesus represents the true Power