Today while waiting in line at the deli, I struck up a conversation with a woman holding a sweet, teacup Yorkie. As I have my own sweet Yorkie, I was happy to talk about her dog and share how much I appreciate my own dog. I’m not the only one–there are many people boasting of their love of animals on social media. Some even go so far as to say that they prefer their dogs to people.
I’ve often thought about this viewpoint, and, while dogs have many admirable traits, our relationship with our pets cannot ever be classified as a truly fair one. This is because in our interactions with pets, we are always in charge. In real relationships, however, there is not, and should not be, that type of power. Relationships that do have that type of control carry a stench of slavery. Any situation, whether it is professional or personal, where a person takes dominion over another can never be good.
Recent revelations have shown how many people in various positions of authority have used this power to manipulate and hurt those beneath them, most specifically women and children. We are unwise, however, to consider that this only occurs with a man lording it over a woman. It can happen in every relationship. In fact, unless we work hard to respect the autonomy of others and ourselves a natural, but unbiblical, hierarchy develops.
Only God Has True Power
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) explains why this must be countered: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” God alone has authority over our lives and our afterlives. In fact, it is this thought—that we are all first accountable to God alone—that creates the strongest platform for freedom. This is because people, no matter how authoritative, must always take second seat to the role of God in an individual’s life. Someone can push and manipulate, but the line must be clear.
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Those who hold true to this in their lives are not taken with the tide of the times. They can stand outside their culture with the timeless perspective of God to evaluate actions. This large view of the world enables them to see how life is more than just this moment. Instead, they see that it is a flowing towards a climactic resolution that will determine those who were truly on the right side of history. It also allows for a consistent love and respect for life. This is because God is the origin of life and alone has authority to determine its limits.
Fight the Temptation of Power
Think now of the relationships in your life. Do you try to bring your will, however well-intentioned, to bear upon the lives of your loved ones? Are there relationships in your own life that show a lack of respect for your own boundaries?
We will all have a bit of both in our lives, but we must all strive to respect that every person is both valuable to God and accountable to Him for their decisions. We can guide, but we cannot control. And we can be guided, but we cannot allow others to take the reins of our lives. Only God has earned that role.