Very few people have been or can be described as powerful. Some have great physical strength; some have been given the power to command countries or armies; some have intellects that allow them to solve big problems, write great novels or masterful pieces of music. I am not such a person and I can’t even recall a time when I felt even a little bit powerful in any way. Most of the time, I’ve felt weak, powerless or not able to control large parts of my life. I think that’s why I like superhero movies, especially when the heroes are the good guys. They have power we can only dream of.
Paul wrote about power greater than any ordinary human being (or superhero) has ever experienced – the power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20). He said he had the same power: “That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me” (Colossians 1:29, NLT). We also have this power, as Paul said in Romans 8:11 (NLT): “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
How do we make use of this power? We can’t use the Force like Luke Skywalker. We can’t rely on a spider bite like Peter Parker or undergo some chemical or cyber transformation. But we also can’t access it by flipping a switch or even by praying for God to turn it on inside us. As I contemplated this, the Holy Spirit spoke a word to me: “death.” It seems so much of being in Christ always comes back to death. We die with him in baptism; we die to self by dying to our desires and the pull of worldly power, wealth and fame. We put to death what belongs to our earthly nature (Colossians 3:5).
In laying ourselves down in death to self, the incredible power of Jesus in us comes alive, giving us both the will and the strength to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). His power is our power, as we die to self, grow in grace and learn the attitude and mindset Jesus had in Philippians 2:5-8. We don’t have to feel powerful, but we can, in our weakness, let his power and grace shine forth to give him praise and glory.