God is Powerless

Inner power - the power of the heart - the Holy Spirit within - warmed heart - softened heart - inner spring.

The way God chooses to deal with us. God chooses to deal with us through love alone. Set aside all other power. Jesus realised this, and set it aside himself. Not only at the Temptations, but also in his Passion.

God chose to limit his power to the power of love. That is what the Incarnation was all about. That is what the Passion was all about. Our God does reign - through love. And the way of prayer is to choose - with increasing conviction and determination and grace - the power of love alone.

God set aside power so that we might have it. But we are not confident at handling that power. Nor are we confident in using it to handle anything that comes our way. So it is hard to say to the world God is not going to save us. God is not going to save you. Because that is not what God's power is for, and God has chosen to set aside the power to save you. Because he expects us to save ourselves, and to save one another. That is what God's power is for.

Who says death is the worst thing that can happen to us?

Confidence in this - change management - will give us a generous, inclusive acceptance that affirms people in their life-choices, even - perhaps especially - when these push at the boundaries of what we might consider desirable. More accepting, less judgemental. Confidence plus acceptance is not only good for us, but highly attractive to others.

Gives us confidence in the difficult things, too. In travelling alongside those whose relationships or lifestyle are different from our own, we may be called upon to venture in love and prayer where we cannot yet go in understanding.

Tonight of all nights, I feel the depth of this - the motherly love of God watching over us - in all its gift and challenge and pain. Tonight of all nights, I understand that the world would much rather have a very different sort of God. A void it could fill. An absence it could ignore. A dictator it could fear. A tyrant against whom it could rebel. A despot it could appease. A cool, rational philosopher to whom it could present well-reasoned complaints. God could take any shape but this, and we would know what we were dealing with; where we stood, where we might have an influence, how we could act.

But this God who comes amongst us as a child; setting aside dominion so that we can exercise it; relinquishing control so that we can learn to trust; laying down power so that we can discover it within ourselves, and learn how to deploy it for the common good - this is not a God who is any use to us at all. What good is a God who cannot or will not intervene to prevent a tsunami? If the power of God is not available to save us, why should we offer such a God our devotion? A God who loves but does not act to save the beloved deserves only our contempt.

Save yourself, and come down from the cross! Save yourself, and us! The more we want to believe and the greater our anguish, the deeper, too, our anger that he has betrayed us. By listening to a different voice. By following a different road. By asking us to be braver, more faithful, more visionary than we want to be. This is the vicious bite of our pain - it comes direct from our deepest wound. That you claim to love me, and you have not saved me!

We mocked him then, and we mock him still: Come down from the cross and we will believe in you. Leap down from the roof of the temple. Show us your power. If you are the Son of God, save yourself. If you are the King of Israel, prove it. Prove you can save us. You say you trust in God - Let God deliver you, and we will believe.

The trouble is that the power to save is the only power that we consider to be of any use. We long for it - the power of the superhero - the power to intervene - to cut through the complexities of a situation, get to the heart of the action and at that point act to prevent harm, arrest evil, foster good. We long for it so much that we foist this power upon God, either claiming that he has it and uses it except when prevented from doing so by the subversive activities of the devil. Or claiming that he ought to have it and berating him because he never uses it when it counts.

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