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October 3, 2023: Right use of power

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. (1 Corinthians 1:24–28, NLT)

The world constantly pursues power games. It is readily seen in every political system in the world. In democracies, there is the inevitable struggle to attain a majority vote. Once attained, even by a single vote, it very often seeks to dictate to the minority. And upon a reversal of position or party, the tables turn. In dictatorships or oligarchies, reversals of power often end in execution.

In the absence of shared principles or goals in human relationships, power defines social interactions and others and becomes the means to an end. Human intimacy then becomes an exercise of consumption where other people are objectified. The ideas of others are rejected and often they are despised for what they believe. Freedom of speech is considered too dangerous by many. And so, power is used to suppress. Totalitarianism may find a way to operate in any political system.

Christians, on the other hand, must hold power lightly. Morality, no matter how one defines it, is not effectively advanced through power. Yes, there is the need for just laws, but legislation never addresses the central issue, for immortality is seated in the heart. We cannot expect others to act like Christians without first introducing them to Christ. We are commissioned to go into deep darkness and bear light. That commission is to be lived out whether we be in the majority or in the minority.

Christians are in fact most powerful where we are in the minority. Jesus said, “…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NLT) The Church in Iran is the fastest growing Church in the world. In fact, increasingly Moslems are being saved in historic numbers. The Church in China is growing exponentially, not in the official churches, but in secret home churches throughout the nation. Paul said, “now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9b, NLT)

So, as the Church in the United States we have a decision to make. We can wring our hands and wish for “the good old days”—wishing that the Church would hold a central place in the public realm. Or we can commit ourselves, recommit our churches, to be animated by the Holy Spirit to live out the Great Commission in our time and in our communities. Rightly recognize our weakness to change the state of things and instead fully rely on the power of Christ to work through me, work through you, work through this church.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21, NLT)

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