It’s true for all of us—we’re drawn to power. Whether it be physical power, power over others, or any other form, we feel this inexplicable desire to either see power or exert power ourselves. I mean, this ranges from action-figures, to guys’ fascination with explosions, muscle cars, and even the political scene.
Yet there is something lacking in all forms of earthly power we are drawn to, and that’s the power of life. True, people use their gifts and talents to help preserve life, but that’s not what we usually correlate with power. We tend to relate power with destruction—bombs, firearms, military leaders, etc. Or even if it’s not exactly destructive, power corrupts. And while physical strength and fast cars aren’t necessarily destructive or corrupting, they can’t produce and sustain life.
We find an entirely different story when we look to God. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Now there’s a lot in that verse, but the basic message is that as we behold the glory of the Lord, our hearts will be changed by the Holy Spirit. Contextually, Paul is contrasting the glory of the old covenant with the new covenant we have entered into by the Spirit. As I contemplated this contrast, the Lord directed me to consider His power. Let me explain.
The old covenant through Moses was given with accompanying signs we would usually associate with power. Hebrews 12:18-19 describes how Israel approached when God gave the Law: “to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.” That was a powerful display of God’s glory on Mount Sinai.
But that’s not the fullest or complete demonstration of God’s glory and power. Oh, no. Rather than His glory being seen only in “condemnation” and a Law that “kills” because it reveals sin, we see a greater glory in the “life’ the Lord “gives” (2 Corinthians 3:6, 9; Romans 7:7-13). At Sinai, God was displaying His glory and holiness. He cannot be treated flippantly, and sin can’t be shrugged off. We need to know who He is. That is why His power was displayed that way.
But His power is displayed even more through life. Think about it. He created life. As John says of Christ, “Apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). We can’t create life from nothing. And not only did Christ create life, but He also sustains life (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Although we do our best to preserve life, our abilities only go so far. The Father and the Son both have life and give new life (John 5:21, 26). And this life They give is eternal (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4-7). That is power, and we can’t replicate any of it.
If we reduce the power of God to our own concepts, we miss so much. Absolutely, His power is displayed in His judgement of sin and His rule over the earth. Yet both of these are pure and cannot be separated from the power of life that He alone has. In humans, power distorts. We enjoy destruction for destruction’s sake (think gladiators, demolition derbies, and violent video games). We give someone a position of power, and it seems that overnight, something changes inside them. The reason is we don’t have full power, and we weren’t designed to. We’re only stewards (Genesis 1:26-28).
But the Lord—the Lord has power. Psalm 146 is a beautiful Hallel Psalm—one that begins with “Praise the Lord” (Psalm 146:1). The Psalm exalts the Lord for who He is and what He has done—including His creative, sustaining, and eternal work. To fully grasp the power of the Lord, we must look at everything He is and does, not just a small part.
There is so much more we could talk about on this subject. After all, we haven’t even touched on the resurrection or God’s sovereign control of history. Yet even so, this gives us an example of beholding the Lord. We can’t try to define God by our own standards. Through the bible, He has revealed who He is and what He is like. We must look to that, meditate on the Word, and worship Him in light of what He has said. As we do that, the Spirit will work in us to mold us into Christ’s image. He alone has true power, and that includes the power of life. Let us worship Him for it.