Jesus Powers Up!
In the very popular Japanese cartoon series of the 1990s called “Dragon Ball Z” the good guys, the defenders of the earth, had those among them who could “power up”. This ability enabled them to resist the potent enemy or to overcome them to victory. To me, as I sat watching these cartoons with my boys, it always seemed to involve a lot of angry faces and shouting. I have since wondered if the idea of fury or anger enabling super powers had great appeal to teenagers who grew up watching such shows!
As adults, though, we actually know that anger can actually motivate us to get the hard jobs done. We have experienced or read biographies describing people using the needed jolt of energy that anger provides to bring change to personal circumstances and even to society. Of course, we are also very aware that such anger “power ups” can have a negative side, sometimes leading to destructive outcomes like domestic violence or war.
In our modern brain-busy, time-poor lifestyles I think we can run the risk of not having enough energy to resist the destructive forces of chaos, negative attitudes, selfishness or abuses of political power. What we need is some kind of quick(!) fix that will also sustain us, even empower us to resist and overcome..
I wonder if you have every thought of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in this way? The Gospel of Mark describes in a brief and intense way what happens at Jesus baptism in the Jordan river and how it empowers Jesus to go out into a head to head with the forces of evil! (read Mark 1.9-13) The two great differences between previous descriptions of a “power up” and how Jesus powers up are; (1) God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is the empowering influence and (2) God expresses his personal love and enjoyment of his Son. It is not anger or fear or threat of being overwhelmed that is the wellspring of Jesus’ following action. It is the real and abiding love of his Heavenly Father. It is not a marshalling of inner resources or energy. Instead Jesus works under the guidance and sustaining power of God’s presence.
I believe this is why Jesus says to his followers “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” and “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:9 & 11–12, NIV) The very real and ‘quick’ fix is to trust Jesus words and follow his lead - for Jesus powers up!