Slavery. Domestic violence. Sexual harassment. Child-trafficking. Little words. Big sins. And especially cruel when they apply to you or your loved ones—a job denied, a frantic trip to the emergency room, a child lost forever. Our misuse of power and manipulation of others is one of the oldest patterns of human behavior on the planet.
“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). It was certainly a truth with which Solomon, the potential author of Ecclesiastes, was familiar. His own father had summoned an innocent woman from the safety and privacy of her own home, impregnanted her, and then murdered her husband, a foreigner who had faithfully served in his army.
Manipulation and abuse are often accompanied by sweet words. “Trust me.” “Don't worry.” “I know what's best.” But the process—the dehumanization of another human being—remains the same. And the result is always rotten.
A social radical, Jesus ate with outcasts (tax collectors, prostitutes), spoke directly to the disabled and healed them, welcomed children, and included both women and men among his closest followers. In addition, he spoke “truth to power,” confronting religious leaders and politicians who placed burdens upon those who could not bear them. But he never patronized anyone.
Can we not follow his example?
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever loves is a child of God and knows God. If we love one another, God lives in us and God's love is made perfect in us” (1 John 4:7-8, 12).