De-Powered Proving
By Anthony Casperson

A blue and yellow blur streaked across the sky, heading toward a zoo with rampaging animals. The superhero blasted to a halt, a recent conversation with one of her teammates leaving doubts in her head. She had incredible, yet dangerous, power. And now she felt she had to prove herself.

Her decision? To take on this threat by herself without bearing her full power.

If you’re like me, when I was watching this scene take place during an online actual-play of a superhero RPG, you’re probably asking, “Why in the world would you do that?” Why would anyone not bring their full power to bear in a dangerous situation? Sure, there might be consequences, but are the consequences not worse going in de-powered?

If we have strengths, resources, or abilities to perform a great feat, why would we ever strip ourselves of them when something important stood before us? When we have something to prove concerning our value, we want every advantage.

But maybe that self-glorifying perspective is the problem.

If ever there was a being who had phenomenal cosmic power and nothing to prove when it came to his worth, it was God. Yet when it came to his greatest act in history, he went in de-powered, and literally saved the world.

In Philippians 2, Paul writes of Jesus’ sacrifice while enfleshed in humanity. Verse 8 says that he humbled/emptied himself. And while that word has long been held in debate by some, I believe the point is that the Second Person of the Trinity, when he took on the name of Jesus, removed himself from his right to claim the power of God.

He saw the greatest enemy of humankind (death brought about because of sin) and chose to face it head on…de-powered. But unlike the superhero from the RPG, he did this not to prove his own value, but to prove our value to him. Through humility, he showed us a hero willing to save through sacrifice.

If you look at the rest of Philippians 2:1-13, you’ll see that this isn’t just a description of what Jesus did for us, but also a call for us to act in similar humility. We prove the value of others when we put their needs above our desires. We show how much we care when we lay down our strengths, resources, and abilities to lift others up.

We don’t have to prove our own worth, because Jesus did that on the cross. The important thing in front of us is continuing the work of God in the lives of others. Are we going to clothe ourselves in our own greatness? Or are we going to humbly face the crucial task de-powered, allowing the glory of God to shine through?