Power vs. Force
Updated: Sep 15
On the topic of three mass shootings in one week…
If the question is: “Where do we go from here?”
The answer is: We already know.
Spiritually, we know where we go from here. We are to go to forgiveness and love. Wait, wait—hold up. Surely, nobody wants to hear that kind of talk right now. These mass shootings are destroying innocent lives again and again and again. We are exhausted from all the mourning. Forgiveness? I’m a minister, and I can barely utter the word. How do we get to a place of forgiveness? I wish I had an answer to that.
Scripture tells us what we already know:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Yes, God, we know this. And another:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. Gospel of John 13:34
Yes, God, we know this. Don’t forget this one:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
We are told over and over and over again to love one another. The problem is, I believe most people are already doing this on a daily basis! I see people in my community loving one another. I bet you do, too. I see people loving their own families, their friends, their neighbors, and strangers. I see people I know making the effort to love others, even when it’s someone they don’t like, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it’s someone who believes in something they don’t. Even when it’s hard. If I’ve just described you, all I can suggest is, 1) keep doing it, and 2) do it even more.
The truth is, at times like these, when multiple massacres are plaguing the nation and there is conflict and fighting with our leaders instead of unified solutions, we have to remember that our healing power lies in our capacity to love, as opposed to seeking revenge or retaliation, or choosing to live in a place of anger and fear.
This is biblical principle:
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18
To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 1 Peter 3:8-9
I see and hear so much anger right now, so much finger pointing and blame. We are getting louder and bolder in our anger and blame, even though we know anger and blame divides us. It undermines the truth of our unity and oneness. It also doesn’t bring back one single life. In case I haven’t made this clear, I’m angry, too. I think it’s important for ministers and spiritual leaders everywhere to admit that. We see your anger and frustration. We feel it, too. I have to remind myself several times a day:
While anger is understandable, love is powerful.
Let me explain more. Loving one another, showing compassion, and blessing others are more powerful than negative emotions like fear and anger, and they are actually more powerful than forceful, evil acts like revenge or murder. It doesn’t seem like that would be true, but it is. David Hawkins proves this in his book Power vs. Force. Hawkins was a psychiatrist, researcher, and author and he studied human consciousness and how it demonstrates itself in applied kinesiology, also known as muscle testing.
Consider that for a moment. He studied human consciousness, our inherent spiritual nature, and found that it consistently presents itself in physical ways that can be tested again and again. The premise of his research was basically that muscles will strengthen or weaken in the presence of positive or negative stimuli. The stimuli can be intellectual (something the subject is just thinking about) or physical (something the subject is holding or touching.)
If you’ve never seen a muscle testing demonstration, the best way to explain it is to imagine that I’m standing with one arm stretched straight out in front of me at shoulder level, with my palm facing down. The “tester” tells me she’s going to push on my arm, and my job is to resist her pushing and not let my arm go down. Simple enough.
So, she might say, “Think of Jesus Christ,” and she tries to push my arm down, but my arm muscles will strengthen and resist solidly. It is easy for me to resist her pushing. If she then says, “Think of Adolph Hitler,” and pushes on my arm, it doesn’t matter how hard I try to resist, my arm will go weak and go down. This really happens. If you ever get the opportunity to see a presentation on applied kinesiology or muscle testing, go to it--and volunteer because it’ll blow your mind! It seems like a parlor trick from the 1950’s, but so much clinical research has been done on this, and the results are amazingly universal.
Without getting into the science, because frankly, I don’t understand it, essentially the more powerful a stimulus, the stronger the muscle test result (Jesus Christ being an example of this.) The more forceful a stimulus, the weaker the muscle test result (Hitler being an example of this.) So, we have to explore the difference between Power and Force and get that really clear in our heads. So, when you hear “Power,” think of your God words—Like God, Jesus Christ, Love, Compassion, Joy, Peace. Those are some of the most powerful stimuli. When you hear “Force,” think of evil acts, like the holocaust and the violent mass shootings that keep taking place in America.
Here are some more thoughts to keep in mind: Force moves against something. Power does not move against anything. Force constantly consumes. Power energizes, supports, and gives life and energy. Force takes these things away. Power is associated with compassion. Force polarizes. Power unifies. With force, the cost is always high; somebody always loses. Power serves others. Force is something you apply. Power is something that you are. Lastly, my favorite direct quote from Hawkins’ book: “Love, compassion, and forgiveness, which may be mistakenly seen by some as submissive, are in fact, profoundly empowering.” I think Jesus was the greatest teacher in the history of the world, and I think he taught us that our power lies in our capacity to love.
It’s up to us to wake up every day and consciously choose to be an expression of love. Even when we are angry and outraged. Even when it is hard. Nelson Mandela told us that our choices should reflect our hopes, not our fears—as difficult as that may be. We must make our decisions today based not on our fears, but on our hope of a peaceful, loving world.
Albert Einstein told us the most important decision we have to make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe. What a challenge it is for us right now, to see the friendliness, the love, the compassion, and our oneness, when the hostility is so prevalent. My prayer for us all is that we faithfully make that choice to move forward in hope, believing in a loving, friendly universe, even when evidence shows us otherwise. May we strive for forgiveness when it seems impossible, and may we take every opportunity to be the most loving expressions of God in the world. Amen.
Please don’t lose hope, friends. Remember our true power always lies in our capacity to love one another.