But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9.
There’s that famous scene in The Princess Bride when Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black both reveal that they are not left handed. I see the gospels as being God’s revelation that he is not right handed. That is to say he does not use a predominantly right handed approach to power.
On Sunday we said that “right handed power” uses force to get what it wants. This kind of power is very common and can be very useful- unless you are trying to maintain loving relationships. “Left handed power,” in contrast, uses love, grace, and freedom to influence others and change hearts. There are no guarantees however that this will happen. Left handed power gives people a choice, and they may choose to reject you.
Consistently throughout the gospels we see Jesus revealing that his power is left handed. He did not come to launch a political rebellion, begin a conquest, and overthrow Rome. He came to change the world through love, sacrifice, service, forgiveness, and mercy.
Do you remember the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness? Satan offers Jesus a chance to gain power through force. Change the rocks. Force God to save your life. Rule the world. All are things that Jesus will eventually do or gain in a left handed way rather than a right handed way.
In John 6 when Jesus feeds the 5000, the people are ready for him to march into Jerusalem and take over. They want more miracles. More bread from heaven. Jesus’ reply is to reject this temptation to direct power. He says “I am the bread of life.” And once again he previews his own death.
In Mark 9, the disciples are ready for Jesus to flex his muscle too. They see an earthly kingdom coming and they want to be on the front line of right handed power. “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom” they argue. They have a view of power that is in complete contrast with Christ’s view of power. Jesus puts a child in front of them and says true power is found in loving, embracing, and serving the unlovable, the servants among you. Serve the servants?!
Jesus is saying “I am not right handed.”
Our Fighter Verse shows us how Paul too learned this lesson. Power is found in weakness. Strength is found in giving up strength. Dependence on God is the power of God in you. This is the way of Christ. Christ made himself of no reputation and took on the form of a servant. He made himself completely dependent upon the Father. He submitted to the Father’s will and courageously carried it out even to the point of shameful dishonoring death on a cross.
Have you learned the way of Christ yet? Have we as a church? In what ways have you been seeking your own agenda this week? Your own power? Do you use right handed power to control your life? To control others? Or do you fight for hearts and souls by using grace, love, and by giving others the freedom to choose?