Monday, February 21, 2011

The power to... obey?

One of the great things about being in Christ through faith is having access to God's power.  Think about it.  The God who made the heavens and earth, who sustains our lives, who holds the heart of the king in His hands, who resurrected Christ from the dead,we're talking about this God.  As believers, indwelt by the Spirit of God, we have access to the great and glorious power of the omniopotent God of the universe!  Wow!

I don't know about you, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I ponder access to this kind of power is to think of all my friends and loved ones in need of physical healing.  God's power is certainly able to heal.  If God's power were like a genie in a bottle, granting me three wishes, my next wish would be to end world hunger.  Next I would bring world peace. (Do I sound like a beauty contestant?)   Most of us probably think about these visible realities around us in need of fixing.  We want to bring God's power to bear on these terrible problems, thus creating utopia.  Paul helps me to see a different purpose in God's power.

Paul prays that the Christians in Colosse will be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;"  Colossians 1:11

I don't know exactly what difficult circumstances the Colossians were facing, but I find it telling that Paul doesn't ask God to remove those circumstances from them or to solve their problems.  Instead, Paul prays that God will strengthen these believers with all might, the kind of might only available according to God's glorious power.  But what is the purpose of this outpouring of power?  Are we going to see great signs and wonders to evidence the Colossians faith?  No.  Paul asks God to give them the power to be patient.  They need the power to endure whatever trial they're going through with longsuffering and get this, joy.  The power to be patient and endure difficulty with joy certainly doesn't seem like a glamorous display of God's power on par with my three wishes, but let's take a closer look.

What is the opposite of patience and longsuffering?  Anxiety?  Worry?  Not trusting God?  These are sins, are they not?  And if we don't endure with joy, what's the alternative?  Grumbling against God?  Complaining? Cursing God?  Again, sin.  Could it be just this simple?  Paul is praying that God will grant the Colossians the power to obey.

Now let's think back to my three wishes:  I wanted to use God's power to heal diseases, end hunger, and bring peace to the world.  The three problems I mentioned share something in common with one another and with every other problem in the world today- the root cause is sin.  Adam's sin brought about a curse on this world.  Disease and hunger are but two manifestations of the curse.  And peace?  There is no peace apart from Christ.  Our sin created a great gulf between us and our holy God.  Only Christ's atoning sacrifice is sufficient to bridge that gulf and bring us peace with God.

The problem is sin.  The solution is obedience.  Only Christ lived a perfectly obedient life, even to the point of receiving the wrath of God poured out on our sins, which He bore for us. 

We all begin our lives enslaved to sin.  When God saves us and places us in Christ, He delivers us from the power of darkness and conveys us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13)  So, in Christ we are no longer controlled by the power of darkness.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  In Christ, we have the power to obey.  And while our personal obedience may not affect our outward circumstances, it is the answer.  When we walk in obedience we fulfill our destiny.  When we obey the Lord, we act like His people who are in Christ.  It may not seem glamorous, but obedience to God takes supernatural power that only He can provide.  May we be faithful to pray this for ourselves, our families, and our churches.  May God grant us the power through Christ to obey Him. 

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.