The debates going on at the various forums on racism, policing, and equality boil down to one issue—power and the sharing of power. When people, who are in power, are afraid of losing it, what results is oppression. Often people who are oppressed do all sorts of things to take back or to reclaim power.
We cannot expect people to live in oppression, believing that it does not exists. Oppression is not confined to race. It happens in all sorts of arenas and the oppressor comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Everybody cannot handle power and the responsibility that comes with it. Everyone cannot handle the ring.
There is nothing bad about power, but there are some who abuse their power. We meet King Belshazzar during the exilic period of the Israelites. King Belshazzar thought he was very powerful. He had lots of money and control over the lives of people. He thought he was a big boss. He had the potential of doing a great deal with his power, but instead he abused it by spending the wealth of the people on lavish parties—while neglecting the needs of others. He ruled with fear and money. However, one night God showed King
Belshazzar that he was not as powerful as he thought.
During a party, where he used sacred vessels to serve alcohol, exploit women, and do all of sorts of things just because he could, a hand appeared out of nowhere and wrote on the wall.
Now, that was some powerful stuff! Imagine a hand appearing and writing without ink a message on the wall. God had to use something that powerful to show the king who was really in control. When the hand finished writing the message, Belshazzar did not have the ability to understand it. He called on diviners, whom he thought could discern the message.
But they did not have the power to do so. Then someone suggested Daniel. We all remember Daniel, the one thrown into the lion’s den for submitting to God’s power.
Before interpreting the language on the wall, Daniel reminded him of how his father, King Nebuchadnezzar, abused his power as king. He recalled the actions of his father and how he ended up stripped of his power, living a horrible life, until he recognized and respected the sovereignty of God. Then Daniel told him that he knew about his father’s journey, and failed to learn from it. Daniel pointed out to Belshazzar his lack of humility. Then Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall. “And this is the writing that was inscribed: “mene, mene, tekel, and parsin.”
Here’s the interpretation of the matter — ‘mene’: God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; ‘tekel’: you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; ‘peres’: your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5:26-28). That night, King Belshazaar was killed.
Power does not mean anything if we do not recognize who is the source of our power. Power becomes null and void if we instill fear in others to keep it.
qPower becomes a weakness if we use it to oppress others, and to ensure that we are free and can do what we want to do. Power is only powerful when it is rooted in the power of love—the love and grace of Jesus Christ.