Summary: One person can work tremendous damage; can one person also create great positive change? She/he can if empowered by the One, who is teacher, forgiver, and conqueror of death.
The other day, my son was visiting his fiancee, and heard a noise outside. It sounded a bit like thunder. So he went out to investigate. There he found a mess. The fellow who lives across the parking lot from Jackie had come home after an evening of “celebrating”, and was driving, if you call it that, through that small parking lot. It was not a pretty sight. He had already sideswiped two drivers out on the road, and now he was banging away at everything in sight. As my son watched – “Bang”, this driver hit a car on the left. So he steered away from that one, and next, “Bang,” he hit a car on the right – this one was Jackie’s sister’s car. And as Bryan stood there in horror, guess who the next two victims were? “Bang”, Jackie’s car. And, you are way ahead of me, “Bang“, Bryan’s car. I’m not sure what kind of Abrams Tank this fellow was driving, but he didn’t stop until he had damaged about eight cars.
Now it’s bad enough when somebody hits your car, but it feels a whole lot worse when your car is new and has never had a scratch on it. It just somehow feels different when that factory sheen is dented and that proud perfection has been compromised. So guess who had not too long ago bought a new car? Jackie, my almost-daughter-in-law. Guess who else had not too long ago bought a new car? My son Bryan, a pristine SUV. Seems they listened to that part of the marriage counseling that says that when you get married, you need three things, a doctor, a plumber, and a mechanic, or else you are going to have a fight! They wanted to get off to a good start in their marriage, and so new dependable cars. Beautiful things.
But after that night, those cars don’t look so new anymore, do they? They aren’t perfect any longer. They run, but they are not what they used to be. They are not the seamless perfection turned out by the manufacturer. They are now damaged goods. They are a disappointment. And all because of one man. One man turned loose on a suburban street, with too much power and too little sense. One man. The power of one.
It should not surprise us, however, that one person can have so much power for damage. Only a year ago the statues of Saddam Hussein came tumbling down in Iraq. Here was one strong-willed, unspeakably cruel man, who terrorized his own people. One person, the power of one, for evil. It should not surprise us.
It should never surprise us, one person’s power for destruction. A few months ago, domestic diva Martha Stewart pulled off an insider trading deal, and in the aftermath has just about brought down the company she had built with such perfection. The power of one. Martha, it’s not a good thing.
On September 11, terrorists slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and thousands of lives were lost. It may have taken teamwork to pull this off, but the evidence points to one mastermind behind it. Osama bin Laden. The power of one, for evil.
And we could go on and on. One man pulled the trigger and killed John Kennedy; another, took out Robert Kennedy; and still another, one man, pointed his rifle at the balcony of the Lorraine and blasted away the life of Dr. King. The power of one person for evil is very clear.
But, on the other side of the ledger, have you ever heard it said, "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in [one person] who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him?" In the midst of all the destruction that one crazed character can do, is the other side of the equation true as well? Is it possible that one person has real power for good? Is it conceivable that one person, just one, acting alone, can make a positive difference?
"The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in [one person] who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him." One person? The proverbial drop in the bucket? How could that be?
In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul reminds us of the power of one. The power of one for evil, he said, is demonstrated by the disobedience of Adam. Adam disobeyed God and broke fellowship. Adam, made in the image of God and after His likeness, disobeyed and was not perfect any more. Like my son’s car bumper, he was now damaged goods – no changing that. Our perfection has been broken, our innocence lost, our beauty diminished, our facade shattered. We are not the same.