” …For there is no power but of God: the Powers that be are ordained of God”.
In other words, we really only have the power that we are allowed and allotted to have by God. Once God decides to remove this power, however, that’s it, we no longer have or hold power or control, plus the illusion of power becomes unveiled before our very eyes.
Let us consider the story that Jesus told of Lazarus and the Rich man. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus clearly illustrates the illusion of power held by the rich man in the story as He says, (from the King James version),
(19)”There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:”
(20)”And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,”
(21)”And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”
(22)”And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;”
(23)”And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
(24)”And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
(25)”But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
(26)”And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
(27)”Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:”
(28)”For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
(29)”Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
(30)”And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.”
(31)”And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
What Does the Story of Lazarus And the Rich Man Teach Us?
What we learn about power from this story is that it is fleeting. Any human power that is given to man, has an expiration date. That date might be twenty years later, or five years later, or even fifty years later, but it will surely come to an end. Even if it is held for a life time, death brings the finality to all human power!
We, also, learn that the illusion of power is not just skin deep. It is a privilege that once held by a person for a significant period of time, develops into an entitled state of mind that even penetrates the recesses of the soul. Consider the rich man beyond death while burning in Hell, asking Abraham to send over Lazarus to either serve him or serve his relatives that had not died yet. Abraham set him straight quickly, by informing him that Lazarus was no longer his servant and he was no longer a master to anybody.
Early church tradition suggests that Jesus based this parable on two real people that actually lived. They have claimed that the rich man, who was also called Dives (meaning ‘rich man’), was a real individual and Lazarus was a poor beggar that really did long for only some of the crumbs from Dives’ table; then they both died. Next, we find Jesus pulling back the veil between life and death and giving us a behind-the- scenes revelation of what happens to the self-serving rich and powerful in death as opposed to what happens to the poor and upright.
What Do We Learn About Power In Today’s World?
For those among us that hold any significant amount of power in our world: those that hold political power, and those that hold economic and social power, must take heed and must be very careful! To all those that use their power or authority to mock God, and mistreat the poor, the destitute, the rejected, there is a day of reckoning coming to each of them. On this day they will discover that there is just an illusion of power held by man and the extreme reality of All Power held by God Almighty!
Moreover, for those of us with very little power or authority in this world, we too must be careful not to forget that without God we can do nothing. We don’t even have the power to brush our teeth or wash our face without God’s consent. We could have some money in our bank accounts today, and find ourselves homeless or destitute on tomorrow. We are all virtually powerless without God’s amazing grace that supplies us with strength and life from day to day.
Once we keep our utter helplessness in focus, we can then learn to be grateful to God for what power, what abilities, and what strengths we do have. Gratitude will get us along way with God, for He loves and expects a grateful heart, but is sorely displeased with an ungrateful heart.
How Should We Handle Power?
We should handle any authority or control, whether small or great, that God has given us with a sober sense of stewardship and responsibility. We should be good stewards (or good managers) with whatever we possess.
- We should be good stewards with our relationship to God,
- we should be good stewards with the way we handle other people,
- we should be good stewards with the way we handle our money,
- we should be good stewards with the way with handle our bodies,
- we should be good stewards with our time,
- we should be good stewards with our employees
- we should be good stewards with our employers
- and we should be good stewards with the way we handle our jobs.
Being a good steward just means being a good manager. And, in order to be a good manager we must look to our Heavenly Manager and Master for the grace to carefully handle the things that He has entrusted into our hands. There is a great blessing in store for those of us who handle His blessings in such a way as to please Him.
In conclusion, the question might still be asked: ‘ What then, is the illusion of power?’ The real illusion of power is simply: that it will last forever. Holy Scriptures beg to differ, in fact, our own human history begs differ! The truth is, and it is well expressed in the words of the gospel hymn written by Raymond Rasberry, ‘Only what you do for Christ will last’, when it says,
“…Remember only what you do for Christ will last,
only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last…”