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the power illusion

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.                                    1 Corinthians 1: 27-29


Where in Jersey today is the seat of wisdom and strength - of power?  Thoughts immediately turn to the States of Jersey and the Council of Ministers because they are the most powerful groupings in the jurisdiction - the lawmakers and the executive.


Then, a few moments later, thoughts move towards the global financial institutions that are here: Citibank, HSBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and so on. They wield huge power with wisdom and strength. One may well fear them because their withdrawal would totally alter Jersey's economic success.


How is it, then, that Paul, the first century Apostle of Jesus Christ, could write to Christians in first century Corinth, in Greece, and say that the wise, strong and powerful in Corinth were put to shame by foolish and weak things - and even by things that did not exist?


Corinth must have been a city of stupid people back there in AD 55 to accept that.


It wasn't.  Corinth stood on a narrow isthmus, just four miles in width. It had become prosperous through trade and commerce at the two seaports on either side of the isthmus. Large ships unloaded at one port, the goods were carried across and ships at the other port distributed the goods elsewhere. It also manufactured ceramics and hosted the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games. And then there was the cult prostitution at the Temple to Aphrodite.....a pleasurable outlet for testosterone-type power.


Power there in Corinth? Power here in Jersey? Who has it?


The key followers of the man Jesus Christ, during His public ministry around AD 32, argued about greatness - and which of them would be the greatest - have the most power. Jesus said that the one who is last of everybody and servant of everybody would be the greatest in His Kingdom - and would, indeed, be the first.


Is that where power lies? In foolishly serving? In weakly being last - and in preferring that others be first?


The man Jesus Christ actually did that. He served to the bitter end of being executed as a convicted criminal - for others, not for himself. And rising again for those others too.


That was his principal task - his main claim to fame. Strange that, unlike Jersey's huge financial institutions, he had no corporate logo, flag, sky-scraper headquarters or assets counted in billions of pounds, euros or dollars. It seems that he didn't - and doesn't - need these things so as to be powerful.


Dinner party invitations are always lovely to receive. A dinner party of the non-Jesus powerful (as humans should perceive them) would be one where every guest took food from the plates of every other guest and sought to retain and eat it, all the while concealing their actions.


A dinner party of the Jesus powerful would be one where every guest took food from his own plate and sought, in truth and openness, to give it to the other guests. That would be heavenly.


The self-giving power alone will endure - because it does not destroy itself. 


But we will have our own company to enjoy, won't we? "If I look in the mirror long enough, I won't have to face the fact that I am alone."


The power of the cross of Christ is the power of foolishness, the power of weakness, the power of "things that are not". That power prevails and brings all other (apparent) powers to nothing - ultimately and everlastingly.   

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (Sir J E E Dalberg Acton, English historian,1834-1902)
"For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever." (Jesus Christ teaching his disciples to pray to the Father, AD 30)
Richard Syvret

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