“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:11-14).
If you were to look deeply at what motivates people, I think you could make a strong argument for power. I am, after all, of the generation that wore “power” suits, ballads, etc. Much of the angst in our culture today is from the perception of power – either a person or group that doesn’t have any, or the notion of another person or group that does. Organizations are toppled from “power” struggles in management and the board. Even churches are not immune from this.
But how should we view “power” today? After all, Paul is praying for the church at Colossae to “be strengthened with all power…” Paul uses three words that express this idea – “strengthened, power and might.” It is that last word that helps us to begin to define what Paul is praying. It is to be a “power according to his glorious might.” So, it is first a power that has its source in God’s glorious might.
But that doesn’t necessarily help me yet. There are plenty of churches who would understand this to mean the supernatural power displayed in the ministry of the apostles. Power must mean great signs and wonders. Surely this is what Paul is praying that the Colossians would receive. Well, surely not. We just need to keep reading.
What is the purpose of this power for which Paul prays? It is “for all endurance and patience with joy…” Now, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Any power that comes from God is supernatural. It’s just not what we want it to be. The church down through the ages has borne great testimony to this power at work in the life of the believer. Many a soul has faced the fierce trials of persecution, and in the face of death, are able to endure even the fiery flames.
As Paul continues, he helps us to better understand God’s glorious might better. We are called to give thanks to the Father, “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” What is this power then. Paul prays similarly for the Ephesians. He says, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:16-20).
We have been qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That same power that raised him from the dead is at work in us for the purpose of endurance and patience. And we can have joy, even as the Lord Jesus could, enduring the wrath of God on the cross for our sake (Heb. 12:2).
One last thing. The way to receive this strength is to be weak. I love this quote from Charles Spurgeon: “God does not need your strength: He has more than enough of power of His own. He asks your weakness: He has none of that Himself, and He is longing, therefore, to take your weakness, and use it as the instrument in His own mighty hand. Will you yield your weakness to Him, and receive His strength?”
Paul isn’t speaking in hypotheticals here. He has experienced this great power borne out of our weakness. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
God’s grace is sufficient. It was enough to raise us up to new life, having been “dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (Eph. 2:1). We, who have looked in faith to the Lord Jesus, know this power well. Notice how Paul describes being qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
It is in our union with Christ Jesus that we endure with patience and joy, knowing that we are safe and secure in that Kingdom that has dawned in the Lord Jesus. So let us walk in that light as we make our pilgrimage to our eternal home.