Kingdom of God and Power
Power or powerlessness??
Different sayings in the Bible give us a trace of what “the Kingdom of God” is. Bible doesn’t give any definitions, but several traces. Many of the parables of Jesus are a good example. The parable of a tiny mustard seed growing into a huge tree was one among them. According to me, one of the most insightful Biblical sayings on the Kingdom of God is in the letter of Paul to Romans.
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14, 17)
Now it speaks of “what Kingdom of God is not” in the first part. This is in continuation with the discussion about food in the 14th chapter. I will concentrate on the second part of the verse.
For the sake of understanding, I divide the six significant words into two sets. The first set contains God, Kingdom and Holy Spirit. And the second contains righteousness, joy and peace. What may be a commonality among the words of the first set ? The word that came to my mind is power. (Feel free to think differently). Interestingly power is not a word very suitable for the second set. Some understanding of world politics, society or family would show that power doesn’t create righteousness, joy and peace in the community. Or power can’t impose them and create an ideal community. It is a gift which the community receives as they grow. And freedom is extremely significant there.
Going further, Holy spirit is not an imposing spirit but a gentle spirit. Jesus’ life was never expression of power. If it was anything, it is the opposite, the expression of powerlessness. Look at his birth, infancy, temptations, most famous parables (prodigal son or good samaritain), washing of the feet and the cross. Power is never the actor in any of these. (I don’t forget the miracles, which can be read as demonstrations of power).
Just to push a little further…. this kingdom of God promised by Jesus has nothing much to do with power; this is the reality the church, his followers, his admirers struggle with…
Thanks to philosophers like Gianni Wattimo and John Caputo for inspirations for this piece. I don’t forget many Christians who dared to think and follow from the other side of power.