Reflecting on this past Labor Day, I have seen some Facebook posts that reminded me of my past and also of what the future holds. In my former life, prior to seminary and pastoring churches, I worked for then Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. I worked as a cable splicer and cable repair technician. As a craftsman, that’s what we were called, I was a non-management employee, and a proud member of the Communications Workers of America union.
As a former union member, I reflect on all the good unions have done for workers, for worker safety, pay, and benefits. They formed and grew as a way to help the workers to reap some of the benefits from the fruit of their labors. Prior to unions, owners and management were free to underpay, abuse, and subject workers to the most horrendous conditions. The unions came and helped to pull the worker up to livable wages and create a solid middle class. Unions have done a great bit of good in this country, and we have a lot to be thankful for because of their ability to bargain and win concessions.
Now, to the other side, unions grew in power and that power has also not always been checked. Unchecked power tends to grow unwieldy and corrupt. Lots of shady union dealings, lots of political power games, lots of abuse has happened in the guise of union strength and power. The same can be said for our political parties in this country. Lots of good has and can be done through the political process. This power too, unchecked, tends to grow to corrupt and unsavory ends.
Reflecting on all of this made me seek out what the scriptures might say about power. In Colossians 1: 10-11, we’re told, “so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may be prepared to endure everything with patience,”.
It’s clear that Paul believes real power comes from God and is given for godly purposes, not for self-aggrandizement. True power, from God, is for the purpose of helping us to endure those things we go through, to strengthen us, and then to prepare us to serve the will of God. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1: 24-25 24 “but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
It’s clear that Paul believes real power rests with God and has nothing to do with what we ourselves can do. Apart from God, our power is meaningless. Whatever we think we can do, whatever plan we formulate, apart from God’s power is destined to fail. We are to lean and depend on God in all our pursuits.
We are in a season where our political parties are waging a battle for our votes, for our backing of their platforms. Remembering that power has the ability to corrupt, we are faced with a daunting task, who do we cede power to in this election? Who has the power to lead us through this difficult time we find ourselves in? Who has the ability to do the most good for the most people? I cannot begin to give you advice on who to vote for, I do however hope and pray you will exercise your right to vote. I cannot tell you what the outcome will be. What I can say is this, ultimately, God is in control.
The power of God to see us through all we are going through is resonating in each of you. The power of God is not and cannot corrupt. We each have a sacred duty to utilize whatever power God has given us, to care for the most vulnerable among us.
We read in Deuteronomy 10: 17-18 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.”
As Christ-followers, as people of The Way, we are called to be God’s hands and feet in all the world. We are to care for all, love all, to demand justice and equity for all. This makes our casting of votes all the more difficult. We have to remind ourselves of what God loves, and as best we can work to elect leaders who will help all of us to be more caring, more loving, more giving, and more accepting.
As an old union member, I know the value of voting. it is important, it is fundamental to our survival as a democracy that says In God we Trust.
I hope and pray this past Labor Day has been a time of refreshment for you and your family. I hope and pray the time ahead will be one that will provide each of us with more and more opportunities to serve our neighbors. I hope and pray the power of God that rests in each of us, will be used in a holy and loving way to make our world become a reflection of God’s kingdom.
Your fellow traveler on The Way,
Great word, Tom…a lesson to be learned by our current leadership at every level.