The Union Recorder

April 17, 2013

COLUMN: Recognizing the Power of One

Dr. Jay Hodges
The Union-Recorder


I often hear people tell me that in whatever situation they find themselves they feel powerless. Being powerless is not the problem; acting on the power we have is what scares most of us to death.

We all have far more power in our lives than we realize, but because we have such enormous power, we have to be careful how we use it. 

In Boston we saw the power of either just one or the power of a few. They learned how to make a bomb (an easy thing to do with all the information at our hands today) and placed them strategically at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and timed their explosions so they would do the most damage.

What were they trying to do? Were they seeking notice for some cause they represented and they felt like blowing up a lot of people would have us feel sympathy for their cause? Were they trying to make a point about our lifestyle or our policies or our type of government, and they felt like killing an 8-year-old child would cause us to rethink something?

I'm sorry, but right now I don't care about their cause or what point they are trying to make; I am angry that someone used the power at their disposal to wreak havoc on innocent people.

Just because we have power at our fingertips does not mean we are free to use it to harm others. 

Jesus knew about power. He was able to calm a storm at sea, feed multitudes of people with only a little food, heal diseases no one had been able to do anything about, and cause the blind to see. A song says that, at his crucifixion, he could have called 10,000 angels to set him free from the cross, but he died for you and me.

He knew about power and he witnessed time and again its destructive power as the Romans persecuted his people. He could have allowed the people to crown him a king, and he could have led an army against the Romans to set his people free. He would be remembered as a mighty warrior in history, but he would not be remembered as Savior.

What he taught us about power is that we use power to be servants. 

“You want to be great in this world?” he asked his disciples. “Then be servants to one another.” 

When he talked about loving people and forgiving people, having mercy and dealing with one another with grace and humility, he was not advocating weakness and powerlessness, he was talking about far greater power than most of us have ever tried using.

Whoever did this bombing in Boston will gain nothing by what they did. We are not terrorized by their actions, but we are more resolute in determining that this thing never happen again not only in our country but wherever innocent people are being hurt.

We are a powerful nation and we can do a lot of good in the world, and sometimes good means hunting down those who harm us and bringing them to justice. At the same time we listen for the cry of the needy and we come to them with compassion. We listen for the weeping of those in pain and we come with comfort.

In our service of Holy Communion we talk about hearing the cry of the needy, and we are called on as individuals to comfort and help those who are right at our hands. The power of one in our neighborhoods can go a long way in bringing peace to the world. That power is in your hands and in my hands, and it is far greater than you might imagine. 

So look around you today, and look for a place to wield that power. Make the life of someone else nearby a little bit better. In doing so, we show those who will kill and maim that they are wrong.

Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at