Real Power

"As long as you did it for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me" (Matt 25:40).

Diplomacy is often called "soft power." To avoid open conflict, diplomats use every kind of inducement, persuasion and logic to reach a settlement. The use of force is kept off the table as a last resort. War seldom resolves the underlying issues, and often only lays the groundwork for the next conflict. War also has enormous consequences, many of them unpredictable and devastating. War, someone once observed, reverses the corporal works of mercy. Hungry people starve, thirsty people die of polluted water, millions suffer harm, are turned into refugees and prisoners.

Jesus revealed God as the ultimate source of soft power. God's real authority is as the Creator, not the Destroyer. God provides everything people need in a bountiful natural world meant to be shared. God gave us a share of the divine nature--the ability to think and choose in community for the common good, for it is our very nature to be communal, collaborative, rational and compassionate. We know God when we care for one another, when we heal and create and celebrate together. Built-in natural laws and the principle of causality teach us that good actions bring peace and order, while bad behavior wreaks havoc and eventually comes back to punish those who ignore its limits and rules. 

To speak of Jesus as Christ the King is to acknowledge him as the epitome of God's soft power. His nonviolence was not a tactic or option, but a demonstration of the way reality works. The use of force disrupts the way God intended the world to develop and flourish. HIs ministry was always about restoring, healing, building, welcoming and cooperting toward a beloved community, where love rules and justice protects the welfare of everyone. It is the standard of humanity written into creation and our human DNA. It is the script for human success and the key to human holiness  

The vision of such a beloved community can seem weak and foolish in a world where might makes right and force seems to get the job done. Yet we see the misery and destruction that brings, the short term gain of the winners and the endless repeated cycles of violence and retribition that afflict the human community generation after generation. Is a world of walled borders, armed camps and the constant threat of destruction the best we can do? 

Matthew 25 is both a vision of the beloved community and a warning to anyone who would ignore the needs of others. God is hiding among the poor, the hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned and outcast of the human family. The failure to love God among our brothers and sisters is the ultimate failure and denial of the meaning and purpose of life. Behold the king of humanity, the model for maturity and divine destiny. As the author of life, Jesus demonstrated for us the authorty that underlies everything.  To obey that authority is to choose life.