I’ve been thinking a lot about power this week. What would you think if someone were to say, ‘to be a Christian is to live a power-filled life’? It makes me think of this ad for a church in the USA. It sounds a little dodgy, right? It sounds like a false gospel that teaches that we can experience all the good things of the life to come here and now.
As appealing as it is, this just sounds wrong, doesn’t it? We know that this isn’t a real reflection of the Christ-following life. After all, the apostle Paul suffered prison, persecution, even shipwrecks in the course of following Christ.
But Tim Chester argues this exact point in Chapter 13-16 of The Ordinary Hero. He writes, ‘Resurrection power, resurrection freedom, resurrection life. It’s a heady cocktail. Yet this is a daily reality for every Christian.’ He gives four quotations from the New Testament:
‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection...’ (Philippians 3:10)
‘[Christ] lives by God’s power ... by God’s power we will live with him...’ (2 Corinthians 13:4)
‘We pray this in order that you might live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way... being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might...’ (Colossians 1:10-11)
‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline...’ (2 Timothy 1:7)
There’s actually a fair bit in the New Testament about power - about power we can experience now - about the life we live in God’s power. But take a look at what we learn when we fill in the rest of those verses:
‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...’ (Philippians 3:10)
‘For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet [Christ] lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.’ (2 Corinthians 13:4)
‘We pray this in order that you might live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way... being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience...’ (Colossians 1:10-11)
‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God...’ (2 Timothy 1:7-8)
In these chapters, Tim shows just what the life of power means -- the life of resurrection power is the life of being like Christ in his suffering and death. The power we experience is power to suffer, to endure, to serve others. As Tim writes, ‘That’s true Christian experience.’
Isn’t that a great message? In the last section (chapters 9-12) Tim explained that we are called to follow Jesus even when it means suffering... that suffering itself is a hallmark of following the way of the cross. What a great reminder in these chapters that we have the power of the resurrection coursing through us as we serve and suffer in Christ’s name!
The power of the Christian life isn’t about being successful, about attaining fame or prosperity or acquiring goods. It’s not even about being the best preacher, or the best Bible study leader, or the most amazing hostess. The power of the Christian life is not about us. It’s not about me. The power of the Christian life is about being enabled to follow Jesus. Following through hardship, unpleasantness, suffering. Following even to death. Because we know that we will be raised to be with Him. That’s resurrection power.