Christopher B. Harbin
Power is something we don’t quite understand and definitely don’t know how to manage appropriately. We yearn for power; we are fascinated by power; we want to utilize power; but we often lose sight of the fact that power is much more likely to use and harm us than we are likely to wield it well. It doesn’t require too long a look at human history to see how often we have failed to understand and wield power not only for the benefit of the larger society, but even for our own long term benefit. We have mostly used power for oppression, violence, and fueling our greed. We have decimated forests, destroyed populations, wiped out species, created deserts, destroyed cultures, enslaved millions, enforced poverty, war, and genocide. We have created conditions that have led to increases of systemic hunger, poverty, and disease.
We have used power to make advances in our societies across the years. We have developed amazing technologies that have sent people into orbit, created transcontinental airliners, established rail and highway networks across mountains and plains for commerce and travel. Most often, however, these advances have come with high price tags of unintended consequences we then struggle to overcome, many of which are beyond our power to reverse. Our development and use of power is most often wrapped around the power to destroy than the power to build and enable both life and blessing. In part, that is why so often we fail to grasp just what power truly is and what it can mean when used in ways that are both transformative and helpful, sustaining and enlarging life.
When Paul speaks of power here in Ephesians 3, he speaks in three categories. He speaks in regard to internal strength, the power to comprehend love, and the power of God already at work within us. In none of these cases does he address the kind of power with which we most tend to identify. We most naturally think of power in term ...
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