I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…may give you the spirit of wisdom…having the eyes of your heart enlightened that you may know…the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe
Ephesians 1:16-19 (selected)
Power, in our modern world, is defined almost exclusively by the ability to get, have, and keep what we want. The moniker, “the most powerful people in the world” is typically assigned to those who have, through inheritance, innovation, or infamy achieved a level of financial or authoritarian segregation from the majority of humans on this earth. Though I do not espouse all of the implications of this terminology, power in our world is seen as “the one percent”. Though there are many things that could be seen as the natural result of power, the most prominent sign that someone is considered “powerful” in our culture is that they are served. In fact, we can get a decent feel for just how much power someone has by how little or much they have to do for themselves.
In western society almost all of us are served at some point. Whenever we eat out at a restaurant we are served; how nice the establishment is (translated: how much a meal costs) determines the level of service. At McDonalds we are handed our food, at Applebee’s we are brought our food, at more upscale restaurants we are given samples and our smallest whims are accommodated.
The third bit of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians chapter 1 (click to read part 1 and part 2) acknowledges that there is a profound link between power and service, but the lens in which the apostle sees their connection is not the same as our culture. Paul prays that the church at Ephesus (and us by implication) would be made aware of power, but not their own power and not even a simple understanding of the sovereign power of God their Creator. Paul prays that they would recognize the power of God “for us who believe.” Not power IN us, or power OVER us, but power FOR us. He goes on to identify this power as the power that raised Jesus from the dead. So instead of Paul flaunting God’s power through His ability to be served by those under Him, he says that God’s power is seen through the service that is provided for those who are less than Him. Power is about service, but it’s about serving not being served.
The highest heights are not found by way of the lowest roads, but on the lowest roads themselves. This is the wisdom that confounds the wise.
This is the nature of the power of resurrection. Resurrection is not served, it serves. Resurrection, in fact, is useless without a dead person to bring back to life. For the Christian faith the most profound act in history was Jesus coming back from the dead, we laud the power of resurrection, and in doing so we find ourselves cheering for a type of power that requires devastation before it can even be used.