I must confess that I was not looking forward to reading Cry, The Beloved Country. After reading Things Fall Apart, which I particularly enjoyed, I didn’t know if Paton’s could live up to Achebe’s. Seven chapters in, I am impressed. Paton does great job of capturing the emotion of Kumalo’s first visit to Johannesburg. At the end of chapter seven, Kumalo is talking to a fellow priest, Msimangu. They are discussing Kumalo’s brother:
Because the white man has power, we too want power, he said. But when a black man gets power, when he gets money, he is a great man if he is not corrupted. I have seen if often. He seeks power and money to put right what is wrong, and when he gets them, why, he enjoys the power and the money. Now he can gratify his lusts, now he can arrange ways to get white man’s liquor, he can speak to thousands and hear them clap their hands. Some of us think when we have power, we shall revenge ourselves on the white man who has had power, and because our desire is corrupt, we are corrupted, and the power has no heart in it.…Yes that is right about power, he said. But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.
And to this Jesus would give a hearty amen.
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of man did not come to be served to to serve and give His life a ransom for many.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Who had more power than Christ? Who willingly gave up that power? Who now has more power than Christ? Through love we gain power. Through sacrifice we grow strong. Why? When we seek power, power enslaves us. Power, not us, becomes the master. When we freely give it up, the enticement, the lure, the enslaving power of power is broken, and we are strong. When we are not after power, we will not be tempted to take short cuts to retain it; we will not be tempted to put someone else down who threatens our hold on it; we will not be tempted to manipulate to get more of it. And just in case you’re not convinced, the great theologian Huey Lewis has this to say,
It don’t take money, and it don’t take fame
You don’t need no credit card to ride this train
It’s tougher than diamonds and stronger than steel
You won’t feel nothing until you feel
The power of love.