Power

Readings: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Isaiah 4:2-6; Acts 1:12-17, 21-26

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice…

May he be like rain that falls on mown grass, like showers that water the earth. Ps. 72: 2, 6

“Let another take his position of overseer.” Acts 1: 20b

Power corrupts if it is attained and exercised for its own sake. Power also exhausts the one who wields it if he or she is not grounded in something far more gracious than personal talent, drive, and energy. It’s why communities of faith pray for those who hold the reins of government – not so much a statement of agreement for a particular agenda, but a recognition that without a connection to something holy it will end in damage.

Today’s psalm reminds us that leaders can choose to rule for the benefit of those who will never have enough money to help them get re-elected, whose influence cannot open political doors. Ruling for the good of those who most need help rather than those who can offer material reward is a road less travelled, but it will make all the difference. The Acts reading implies that the best leader might not be the one who wants it the most: it might be someone whose constancy and service is evident to others.

If I judge leaders by a higher and holier standard of serving the least and last, I must also judge myself by that higher and holier standard. Am I serving the needy in the work I do, or am I serving only those who can reward me in material goods or influence? In the end, the blessing I offer others without seeking reward brings peace. In the end, the blessing I withhold because it doesn’t line my pockets or promote my welfare will shrink my soul in proportion to the harm I do to others.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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