Temptation to Be Powerful by Wesley Kouba

Temptation to Be Powerful (adapted from Henri Nouwen; Matt 4:8-11) By Wesley Kouba

There is nothing more you could be or possess that minimizes or diminishes the absolute power of God inside you (Jn 14:26). The third temptation of Jesus was to be powerful. Jesus was tempted to bow to the devil and the entire world would be His. Think about that for a minute. Lies never deliver like they say they will. There was never a time when Jesus was not in control of the world as the Son of God. To give what He already possessed was ludicrous, but so are the lies that we often fall for. And so, Jesus tells the tempter to get lost & to only worship and serve the Lord God. What are some lies that you all are struggling with as a person? a couple? a family?

Why is the temptation of power so enticing? Henri Nouwen states, “Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.” He goes on to say, “the temptation of power is greatest when intimacy is a threat.” When God’s people don’t know how to nurture, develop and care for healthy, intimate relationships they usually opt for power and control through any means possible: manipulation, coercion & shame.

The desire for power is often driven by either fear (loss) or lust (greed). Both postures attempt to coerce, manipulate and control God & others. Yet love is about giving up control and power (Jn 15:13). Is it not the Gospel’s power and God’s ability to save sinners like me that produces wonder, amazement and awe in us? God takes what is impossible and makes it possible (Rom 5:6-8). In doing so, He blows us away!

People who have a skewed understanding of power and a lack of self-control and power in their own lives often end up hurting others. The quest for power and control is endless and it shows up in a myriad of unhealthy ways. This is why deep theological reflection is so valuable. Knowing the overarching story of Scripture keeps the Gospel Story at the forefront of our lives and existence. When we know how our story connects and integrates into the Original Story, it anchors us in the Author of the story instead of trying so hard to write our own stories. It releases us from compulsion for control and power by recognizing that we’re just a small part of the greater story. We get to sing harmony, because Jesus’ love over us is the melody of life. When we join him, there is a beautiful symphony of love, power and beauty.

This recognition allows us to relax and enjoy the journey knowing that as our story is being written, the One who holds all things together is right there with us. We begin to understand that it’s less about rigid certainty and a destination and more about the journey and the relationship along the way (Acts 9:1-2). Jesus defines power, greatness and authority as serving (Mk 10:42-45). We can lay down our lives because we don’t need to be anymore than who God made us to be. We don’t need to possess anything more than what God has given to us in order to be happier, powerful, whole or complete! In Jesus the Living Word, we can surrender our lives because of God’s power and control of all things. You can tell evil and the lies to “get out of here” just like Jesus did. There is nothing more you could be or possess that minimizes or diminishes the absolute power of God inside you (Jn 14:26).