Significance in this life is often measured by the degree of impact one has on others. Few would argue that the more influential the position, the greater the extent of possible impact. Power is motivational. It is also intoxicating.
My wife and children reflected with me during our Claiming Christ devotional time on a prophesied time when everyone will be given a power rivaling Aladdin’s Genie, or the touch of Midas, or the allure of Madonna.
The prophesy speaks of the Sun turning to darkness; a fantastic time preceding the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” with wonders of fire and billowing smoke, in which young and old, men and women will all participate in a mystical display of supernatural power like nothing the world has ever seen before.
It goes something like this:
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on earth” (Joel 2:28-30).
Elsewhere in Scripture we read of a similar description applied to the Man of Lawlessness and presumably to those under his sway:
“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thes 2:9-10).
There is a time coming when supernatural powers will fall upon everyone. Even Jesus foretold of this mind-blowing display of awesome power during which the Sun will be darkened:
“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See I have told you ahead of time” (Mt 24:24-25).
Power like men have never experienced before. And it will be at our disposal, to use as we see fit. One can only imagine what that will do to those around us. One ought to imagine what we might do with such power.
After a recent refresher on church history, I was struck by the potential hypocrisy of some of the great names in Christian past. Many of the names of founding fathers, as they are often called, from the centuries after Christ, embraced an ascetic lifestyle of self denial; that is, they denied themselves the pleasures of this world, but with one notable exception—power.
As the saying goes, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As an extension of the nature of man, that is true, but it is not a foregone conclusion for those who submit to a Higher Power. Power that acknowledges that it is not absolute can be exercised with restraint and submission to a higher authority, if the user so chooses. But that isn’t the natural course, especially when being contested.
And that is not the universal exception even among the powerful in Christian history. In spite of the many good deeds and insightful contributions by bishops of old, some have scars on their record from when they abused their power to enforce their own ideals in contrast to the model portrayed by Christ and the early apostles. Some got their way by intrigue, some by bribes, some even by burning their adversaries alive.
Power is intoxicating, even for those professing faith in Jesus.
So this prophesied time of supernatural magic and wonder will likely be a circus of the spectacular that degenerates into the horrific; a time when even the stars of heaven will fall out of the sky.
If such delirium can infect even those within the church, then how ought the faithful prepare their minds for action? What should a true Christian do with such power?
The prophet Joel gives two points of distinction between “all people” given power by the Holy Spirit and those of “my servants” who exercise it faithfully. The first is found earlier in this passage, it simply says “Rend your heart and not your garments”. In other words, present yourselves to God with a continual attitude of repentance and don’t fool yourself with outward signs of religious piety.
The second is given within the context of those who stand infused with the very power of God, capable of unleashing the most dramatic display of authority in all the universe:
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.
The powerful who choose to remain submissive to God will continually seek the direction of the Lord in how to exercise that authority and will restrain themselves from dog-and-pony shows, from enforcing their own desires, from silencing their enemies, and from trying to sustain their positions of influence. They will willingly lay their crown of authority at his feet and seek his direction even in the face of potentially loosing their status.
As Jesus stated, “See, I have told you ahead of time”. Your moment in the Sun is coming. You will be given awesome power beyond your wildest dreams. Choose now this day, whom you will serve. Begin with rending your heart and consistently calling on his name for how to exercise the influence you already hold Today.
For he who is faithful in little, will prove faithful in much, even when in possession of real Power.
The bottle has been rubbed, the vapors have been uncorked, you can have anything you want. What is your first wish?