Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Power Does Not Comfort
Eccl. 4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them.
In contemplating the ways in which the powers of this world function the author explains reality. Unfortunately there are those who are oppressed by those who have power. Those who have power may see the wielding of this power, the oppression of others, as a soothing comfort for their own vexed souls. The oppressed are torn apart, suffering, and there is no one to comfort them. Those with power have tried in vain to prop their own egos by their behavior, only to discover there is no one to comfort them either. There is no comfort for those who will steal power from others and their activity leaves them devoid of their true needs.
Every person has power in some way, shape, or form. There will always be a particular circumstance in life where someone holds power over someone or something else. Whether it’s an infant who wields control over parents by denying them a night of sleep, or a student squashing the fly who is disturbing them in class, we all have power. The question is what we will do with that power.
Jesus became the example of self-emptying power. He gave himself up for the sake of everyone else. Instead of using his power to soothe his own soul, he gave up his power to comfort everyone else. The author of this passage didn’t have the reality of the Messiah to inform his thoughts, and yet, if he had, he may have seen things differently. We are able to proclaim that the Comforter has come! In his self-emptying (kenotic) activity, Jesus gives up power to comfort all of humanity. Jesus comforts those who have been oppressed, and he even comforts those who have abused power when they humble themselves before him. This is the promise of the Prince of Peace; the great comforter!
Humanity continues to practices terrible oppressions. As we stand in the place of Jesus in this world — filled by the Holy Spirit — we are to become the comforters. We are to look upon the tears of the oppressed and we are to bring them comfort. Just as Jesus would seek out those who desperately needed him, we are to seek out the oppressed and bring the comfort of Jesus. The oppressors have power and the comfort of Jesus is needed to break down those powers. Human power and authority is nothing in light of God. Those who have experienced the true power of God willingly give away any power they may personally experience. This kind of power is used to build up others and provide for comfort for those who are in need.
The world will never understand the power of God for it is subversive. It turns human models of power upside down. Those who appear to have no power actually have the greatest when they are participating with God in Christ. We must empty ourselves of any human power or authority and allow ourselves to be filled completely by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes — the Comforter has come!
Lord, we see the oppressed around us. Help us to have the eyes to see and the wisdom to know how to reveal your loving comfort. Amen.