Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Strength from above

I remember one time when I was speaking at a conference.  I had been speaking for several hours each day (no doubt boring people to distraction!).  Eventually we reached the tea break.  I felt completely exhausted and totally drained.  I went into the pastor’s study and picked up a copy of Eugene Peterson’s translation of the New Testament.  I happened to open it at Ephesians 1:19 which speaks of God’s ‘incomparably great power for us who believe’ or, as Eugene Peterson put it, he gives us ‘endless energy and boundless strength!’

This is the supernatural energy, power and strength which come from God through Jesus by his Spirit who lives in us.  Father Raniero Cantalamessa points out there are parallels with what is happening in terms of the physical environment.  The church is facing the same problem as the world as a whole, but on a different level.

It is the question of the supply of energy.  How do we ensure sufficient energy supplies to sustain life?  Where will we find this energy, from below or from above?  In the case of physical energy, to seek it from below means to drill wells for oil.  However, we know that oil is not only a non-renewable resource, but its use also causes all sorts of pollution.

For this reason we are searching anxiously for power ‘from above’.  In this case, how to harness solar energy.  The energy of the sun’s rays falling during one year on the roads and streets of America alone could deliver twice the energy received from all the world’s consumption of fossil fuels in the same length of time.  The energy ‘from heaven’ is immeasurably more powerful than the energy ‘of the earth’.

On the spiritual level too, we stand before a choice: Do we look for the energy we need ‘from below’, in ourselves and the resources of our intelligence and our entrepreneurial spirit, or do we look for it ‘from on high’, from the risen Christ, the Sun of Justice?  The world is frantically trying to convert from one source of energy to another, from fossil fuels and nuclear resources to solar power which is infinitely cleaner and also free.  The church is also in need of the same ‘conversion ’.

We all need ‘power’ and ‘strength’ in our lives.  They are attributes of God.  However, he does not seem to keep them to himself.  He gives them to his people.  In the passages for today we see something about the extent of God’s energy, power and strength and the means by which we obtain them.
Nicky Gumbel: Through the Bible

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