Power is one of the themes in the book of Ephesians. This may be because the city of Ephesus was considered a place of power. It was a center of Roman influence, and the Roman emperors strove to cultivate places where their political and military power was celebrated and supported.
Ephesus was also a center of religious power. Many of the pagan religions that prospered in the city focused on the use of power as well. People sought power through religions to influence people and circumstances, or to gain wealth and fame, or to harm their enemies.
The quest for power is no different today. Governments the world over try to amass power, project power, and protect power, whether economic or military. People attempt to use religion to influence politics, change their circumstances, and even to belittle or harm those people they foolishly consider their enemies.
And if we’re honest, it’s not just institutions that long for power, we do too. We may not want to be first, but we certainly don’t want to be last, so we seek influence and advantages to be sure we aren’t left behind.
In contrast, Paul believed the greatest power the world had ever experienced happened when Jesus was raised from the dead. The God who has that kind of power will give his followers inner strength (Ephesians 3:16), the power to understand the extravagant, limitless love of God (Ephesians 3:18) and the power that works within us to accomplish even more than we can dream (Ephesians 3:20).
This power, rather than being on display for all to see and cause dread, is the power to become people of prayer and patience, kindness and self-control, love and peace. And it’s that kind of power that will change the world!
Questions for reflection:
- Do you feel powerful? Why or why not?
- Do you want to feel powerful? Why or why not?
- How can you cultivate more of the greatest power in the world, love?