Sunday, January 7, 2018

Surpassing Greatness

We live in a world that is fairly easily impressed ... then and now. Jesus compared the people of His day to selfish children easily upset when they don't get what they want (Matthew 11:16-17) ... and not much has changed since then. The modern church has become obsessed with entertainment. It pervades every service and event. Then, if they do not get the entertainment rush they desire, they complain about the leadership, threaten to leave the congregation, and/or withhold their money.

Acts 8:9-11, "Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts."

See how easy it is to draw a crowd? Everyone in Samaria knew this man's name. They saw his trickery, and dubbed him "the Great Power of God." Oh, how wrong they were! And the same error is being made today by those who believe that the "power" in a congregation has to do with so-called miracles, or in swelling numbers, or in community popularity.

This is why the Apostle Paul prayed desperately that Christians would know the truth, and that such truth would set them free from such shallow, earthly constructs. In Ephesians 1:18-21, he writes, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come."

An "enlightened" Christian knows that our only hope is in being called out of this world. Our only glory is in what we will someday inherit in heaven. The true power of God - a "surpassing greatness" - is found only in those who place their full trust in Jesus Christ. Such brethren will - like Jesus - be raised from the dead and seated in heavenly places.

The kind of people who were enamored of the Samaritan charlatan quickly lost interest when better entertainment presented itself. Those though who are enamored of the "surpassing greatness" of the One "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion" "may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24). Jesus wants us to be edified, not entertained!

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