I recently watched a series on Netflix (Marvel Comic’s Jessica Jones) where the villain had the most terrifying superpower I could imagine: to be able to mind-control people and make them do anything he tells them to.
For instance he could tell then to hurt, torture or kill themselves or others (throw that cup of hot coffee in your face; take the skin off each other’s faces), give him anything that he wanted or act against every natural instinct (put your screaming child down on the pavement and drive me around like a chauffeur).
I tried to imagine if I had such a power how long it would take me to abuse it, even if my intentions started out to be only to use it for good. Less than a day definitely, maybe even less than an hour before it became a tool to fulfil my selfish desires.
Not cruelly at first, but my family would soon become my slaves (pick up that mess, make me tea, vacuum the house etc.), the minor irritations I politely put up with from others would be stopped (kill your barking dog, throw your stereo through the window), rules wouldn’t apply (get back in your car officer and forget this ever happened) and I’m pretty sure the momentary desire for revenge when someone offends me would be acted on disproportionately (rude driver go put your car into a ditch, pushy shopper scratch off your tattoos with your fingernails).
It would progress from there I imagine.
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and what more absolute power than to control others without consequences?
If such a superpower did exist you would want to know the person wielding it was 100% good and incorruptible. Yet do you know that even God, who is indeed 100% holy and unselfish doesn’t use His power to control us against our free will? Why?
An interesting thing happens in the series when the villain, Kilgrave, falls in love with Jessica Jones. He realises that although he can force her to act like she likes him, even make her sleep with him, he can’t make her love him – that has to be an act of free will, and so he goes about trying to woo her in his own twisted way.
Submission can be forced but love has to be earned, and given freely. That is why God, who doesn’t just love but IS love, chooses to limit His omnipotence (all-powerfulness) over us. When He made us He didn’t want robots, He wanted friends, so He gave us free will. He can’t force us to follow Him, He can only woo us.
That is why faith is a relationship and not a religion. It should fill us with awe – not what God CAN do but what He chooses NOT to be able to do.
And it means we as humans have a truly terrifying power. The power to say no to the God of the universe who made all things and without whose permission we couldn’t take the next breath. The power to refuse the love of a being from Whom every good thing originates and without Whom we can do nothing. How dare we!