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Friday, May 31, 2019
Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 1:15–23
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (NRSV)
“Power” appears four times in this brief passage from the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It is the third thing Paul prays that the church in Ephesus may know. After (1) the hope to which God has called them and (2) the riches of God’s glorious inheritance among the saints, Paul prays that the Christians in Ephesus will have their hearts and minds enlightened through a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know (3) the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe.
Power is facing a reckoning these days. Important social movements like Black Lives Matter and #Metoo are raising critical questions about the abuse of power by those in American society who have disproportionately wielded it, namely (though not exclusively) white men. As Fourth Church engages with organizations like Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, we are forced to ask power questions, both about our church and our society: Who has power? How did they get it? How are they using it? These are transformative questions.
The pastor and community organizer Robert Linthecum draws a very helpful distinction between unilateral power and relational power. Unilateral power is “power over a people,” while relational power is “power with.” There can be no question that God practices relational power and that relational power is what the church is called to develop and deploy. How, after all, does God deploy power, according to verse 20 of our reading? By raising Christ from the dead—by restoring relationship.
The claim, then, that Christ now sits “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” means that relational power wins. The power that we have as God’s people is a power to reach out, to lift up, to stand with.
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know you, so that with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we may know what is the hope to which you have called us, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power for us who believe, according to your great power. Amen.
Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry
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