by Bryan Marvel
Read Ephesians 1:15-21
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know… his incomparably great power for us who believe. (v18-19)
Imagine that you're working out at the gym and in walks a bodybuilder. His biceps are the size of basketballs. His shoulders are the size of watermelons. His legs look like tree trunks. The guy is HUGE! He looks to weigh 300 pounds and is as solid as a brick wall.
Now, imagine he lays down on a bench to do a chest press, and he only presses the bar, which weighs forty-five pounds, with no weight on it. At first, you think he’s just warming up, but then you notice he’s struggling. He can barely lift it. Then, he goes to do squats, and again, he struggles with a low weight that anyone could do. Next, he does bicep curls, but he uses the tiny 3lb. pink weights that my daughters could lift, and he’s still barely doing it.
If you saw this in the gym, you would be utterly confused. The guy looks incredibly powerful and strong, but he struggles to lift a weight that even a kid could lift. It doesn’t add up.
Sometimes, I wonder if this is a description of how many Christians live their spiritual lives.
The second half of Ephesians 1 is a prayer from Paul for the church. As Paul is listing out his prayer requests, the thing that sends him on a mini prayer-tangent is the incomparably great power that is available to us (v19-21).
He says that it’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead! That’s incredible power. Believe it or not, it’s already at work in us. In chapter 2, Paul says that just like Jesus, as Christ followers we’ve been resurrected. God’s power brought us back from spiritual death and, through the Spirit, we have regular and continual access to this power.
If we’re familiar with the ministry of Jesus, we shouldn’t be surprised that this power is available to us. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus seemed to be pretty free in giving His power away. In Luke 9 Jesus sends His disciples out on a mission trip to preach about the Kingdom and heal the sick. Before they leave Him, the gospel writer says that Jesus gave them His power to do the work He was sending them to do (v1). Jesus longs for us to live an empowered life.
Perhaps the reason Paul is praying that the church would know Jesus’ “incomparably great power” is because so many people don’t. Instead of living strong spiritual lives, we live weak and defeated. Instead of fighting off temptation and battling back against sin, we’re quick to give in and wave the white flag. Instead of being bold and courageous in our witness, we’re fearful and shrink back.
This raises the question, if we have this power available to us, how do we take hold of it?
It starts by knowing that we have it. Paul’s prayer is that the eyes of our hearts would be open so that we would know that we have this power (v18-19). This means many Christians don’t realize they have it.
We also have to start to exercise it. If we want to increase our physical power, we have to go to the gym and work out. The philosophy of growing stronger in the gym is to expose our weakness. We lift weights until we reach our limit (i.e., our point of weakness). Growing in resurrection power is the same. It comes to us when we can’t do something. It comes to us when we’re dead and brings us back to life. Remember, it’s God’s power working in us, not our own.
If we want to increase our spiritual power we have to step into situations where we actually need it. Circumstances where we’re outside our comfort zone. Places where we might actually feel weak, and then, trust that God’s power will work in and through us.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul remembers God’s words when he writes,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong. (v9-10)
God’s power is available to us. He wants us to have it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself in situations where you need it.
1. Where do you feel like you are lacking power in your life?
2. What’s preventing you from exposing your weakness to receive it?