Storms often knock out electrical power, as was the case for us during hurricane Ian. It took a while to get the power back, but we were okay with that because we know the workers were prioritizing needs and working hard to restore what was lost. All of that got me thinking about the concept of power.
Power is an interesting word that can carry with it some important ideas. We think of power connected to electricity, and when we lose it we realize how dependent we have become on it. Sometimes, “We have no power” becomes a bit of a code for saying, “This is very inconvenient.” In some cases, that power can mean life or death, which makes many of our complaints seem petty. Then there are the vast numbers of people in the world without such power at all, and they manage normal days without it. And let’s not forget that the vast majority of people who ever lived before us never knew such electrical power at all. May God help us put this perspective! We can survive without electrical power.
Power can also indicate one’s abilities to accomplish something. I have power to write something (for good or ill). I have power to turn my power at my residence on or off provided we have power. Power is a fun word.
Power also means strength, and this can be good or bad. We think of political power or the power that one individual might have over another. We think of positions of power and authority that some have due to their positions. Such power can be wielded for the good of others, but often power is corrupted and becomes abusive and oppressive. Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes speaks of seeing all the oppression done under the sun, and “on the side of their oppressors there was power” (Eccl 4:1). God has words for people who abuse and oppress the powerless (cf. Isa 1:17, 23).
But here’s where I really want to go: the power of God, though manifested in various ways, both miraculous and non, is demonstrated in the gospel. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Rom 1:16-17). Because of what God did, we all have access to the very same power, and this is the power found in Jesus Christ. The power of God is seen in the cross for those who are being saved, and this is no little power (1 Cor 1:18). Our faith needs to rest not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor 2:5). Through Christ, then, we will be able to accomplish all that He intends by His strength (Phil 4:11-13). It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we have hope (Rom 15:13). We can go on a long time in these thoughts. God supplies an unmatched power to which we all have access and for which we need to be thankful.
The biblical theme of power is impressive and something we would do well to think about. God has all power and from Him comes power given by His grace that we may live an abundant life through Christ. This is available to all, whether they have physical power, electrical power, or any other kind of power. God’s power, strength, and authority is offered to all. But we must relinquish our own sense of personal power (deny self) if we will see God’s power for what it is and what it can accomplish in our lives.
Paul gave thanks for the faith of the Ephesians as the eyes of their hearts were enlightened … “that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Eph 1:18-21)
The power of God displayed on the cross and through the resurrection is available to us, and if we know anything about God, we should know this:
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)