Reflection on Power
Written by Tyler Crabe
Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network (LEVN) former program director
For a long time, reading the Ten Commandments reminds me of being scolded as child. Don’t do this, and don’t do that, or you will end up in the principal’s office yet again. It felt like an all-powerful God using God’s power to tell me what to do.
Yet, I do not think this is what the Triune God had in mind when creating the Ten Commandments.
In the narrative of Exodus, God calls together a people and frees them from the slavery and tyranny of the Pharaoh. God’s divine power inspires leaders and delivers the Hebrews from their plight. After freeing the Hebrews, God outlines how intentional community might look in a covenantal relationship in the Ten Commandments and other laws, so that they might be free to live justly and in harmony with one another and their God. Rather than using God’s power to control, God uses God’s power to create and free the Hebrew people. In Egypt, God freed the Hebrews from tyranny. In creating a covenatal relationship, God uses God’s power to free the Hebrew people from isolation.
In some ways, the covenantal relation God creates is similar to the rule of life we ask our volunteers to create and live by here at LEVN, so that they each might be free to live justly and live in harmony. Rather than restrictive, I view a rule of life as freeing. Living in intentional community, like our volunteers, requires the equitable sharing of resources, time, and space. Living in intentional community requires to be freed from only thinking about ourselves.
The uniqueness of the Triune God’s power is that it can create life, new life, transforming us into new creations despite our brokenness. God has the power to create community. For true power, that which comes from the Triune God, is not that which destroys but that which gives life.
We too are invited into the creative and redeeming work of the Triune God through the life, death, and ministry of Christ Jesus. Called and claimed in the waters of baptism, we are invited from the house of slavery into a house of grace. We are invited into community, freed to concern ourselves with the needs of others and serve both God and neighbor.