Word on Wednesday – by John Mason
‘God’s Power…’ – August 22, 2018
Power is one of those buzz words that takes on different meanings at different times. For a time people talked about power dressing and power walking. Now ‘power’ turns up as part of the voice of protest by those who perceive themselves as powerless against those they see as having power – be they leaders in government or finance, or those they perceive as elitist or self-serving.
‘Power’. The word conveys a sense of energy and strength. You need it if you want to make it.
That said, in his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of power in a very different way – as something external that can change us for good from the inside out.
In the opening chapters he writes of God’s power at work in raising Jesus from the dead. In chapter 2 he speaks of God’s power at work in raising us from the death caused by sin, to new life in Christ. In the same chapter he goes on to speak about the power of God in reconciling two very different racial and cultural groups— the Jewish people and the non-Jewish world (Greeks).
Now, in Ephesians 3 the Apostle Paul uses the language of ‘power’ as he prays for an effective, deep personal experience of God by His people.
Handley Moule, an eminent 19th and early 20th century theologian and church leader – and one-time bishop of Durham, England – writes that Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is for power, divine in kind, and, as to its operation, penetrating to the depths of our being….
It is a power full of life, infinite and eternal, but so deep that it is still, with the peace of God himself, and with a joy which is but heavenly love in movement… This … is to have for its first and main effect just the opening of the heart’s inmost door to the personal presence of the Savior, and then, and so, the full apprehension of his salvation (HCG Moule, Ephesians, pp.129f).
The theme of God’s power bubbles through Paul’s prayer. He prays for God’s personal gifting of his life and for wisdom. He prays that we might become mighty through the presence of God’s Spirit deep in our hearts. He longs that Christ’s love for us is not just a distant experience, but that we are drawn to him with joy, delighting in him as our Lord.
Faith. Following this thought, he also prays that, for our part, we will truly trust Christ – that is, we will fully receive God’s gift of forgiveness and new life by faith. For such faith, while not a virtue in itself, opens the way for true virtue in our life.
So he prays that we might be rooted and grounded in this faith so that we might ever enjoy a richer experience of Christ. Indeed, he asks that we might be filled to the measure of the fullness of God (3:19). Just as a freighter is filled to capacity through a pipeline connected to an external source, so Paul prays that Christ, the external source, will fill us with his presence so that we may fully enjoy the power of his love at work within us.
Biblically speaking, the power that can truly change us, must begin within.
Paul brings his prayer to a close with words that inspire: To Him who is able… (3:20). To look within ourselves for strength to carry on – especially in the tough times – is the way to despair. But to look to him who is able brings comfort and grace, goodness and hope from the one who is the source of all life.
What is more, God’s power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Paul’s words and imagery here startle, amaze and encourage us. Yet despite his eloquence, we can feel that everything he says is still a wondrous understatement.
Too often we feel powerless because in the world’s eyes we seem like a nobody. We have no status let alone any voice or power to influence changes for good in others. Or so we are tempted to think!
But notice, the primary place of this work of God and where the centre of God’s glory is to be found is not so much by the church, but in the church – in the life of God’s people together. Paul’s prayer is one of thanksgiving and adoration towards God. But it is also an intercession, asking for the might of Christ to be at work within all God’s people.
When we take hold of God’s gift we will begin to experience a genuine humility before him and an interest and compassion in our relationships with others. God’s mighty work within us will also produce an inner calm as we begin to find an inner strength to cope with the frustrations of life. Others will observe the changes – including our integrity and sense of duty at home and at work, as well as an integrity in our relationships. None of these changes come from our own strength, but from God’s power within us.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
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GettyMusic ‘Sing’ Conference – September 10-12. Location: Nashville, TN (Music City Center – 201 5th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203) Theme: Psalms: Ancient & Modern
Visit the Anglican Connection Booth.
Lunch with the Anglican Connection ‘Focus Group’ – Tuesday, September 11 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm. Theme: ‘Thomas Cranmer & the Psalms – and 9/11’.
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© John G. Mason – www.anglicanconnection.com