THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE
Christ the King Sunday
Analysis by Cathy Lessmann
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
DIAGNOSIS: Destructive Power
Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): Controlled by Power(s)
Power rules the world. President Trump just flexed power by threatening North Korea with complete annihilation. That kind of power relies on brute force; it gets it way by domination and bullying. Nature just flexed her power with three consecutive, devastating hurricanes. There are powers galore, powers beyond our control, powers like globalization that affect everyone’s bottom line. We quickly become over-powered.
Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): Infatuated by Power
We react by either loving or resenting these powers. Sometimes, when we are victimized, we lose hope. Mostly though, deep down, we crave power for ourselves. We’d like to be on top, as in, king of the mountain. With an extra portion of power, we could, possibly, “make it” on our own! Whichever reaction, we are captives to these powers and trust them as vehicles for self-preservation, aggrandizement, justification, and so on.
Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): De-powered, i.e. Dead
Lord Acton warned, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To which Almighty God adds, “and destroys absolutely!” The power behind the Law (the power that controls our behavior) is death, and alas, it kills—not saves—all who insist on being motivated by it. It’s like being electrocuted by that which one embraces the most. Perhaps most terrifying is recognizing who is pulling the switch.
PROGNOSIS: Saving Power
Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): A New Power
Yet, Paul gives thanks—with great wonderment! Hallelujah! There is an alternate and greater power at work, a power that (drum roll please) reverses death itself! This power “grid” promotes life instead of death. It pulsates love and mercy beyond understanding. It was on heart-rending display when Jesus carried his cross to his execution, begging God to “forgive them,” and took “the sins of the world” on himself. It was on spectacular display when Almighty God, moved by Jesus’ love for those who killed him (us included), reversed death and re-vivified Jesus on Easter morning. That resurrection totally annihilated and nullified the power of the Law. And then finally, that same colossal Power coronated Jesus ruler—king!—of the cosmos, and placed all alternative powers under his sovereignty. That’s the power behind Jesus’ throne. It crackles with mercy, love, and forgiveness.
Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): A New Operating Power
King Jesus turns around and offers the security of his sovereignty to all people, all creation, bar none. All are offered a “plug-in,” all get to be “connected” simply by trusting Jesus (called faith). This alternate power, sometimes called the Holy-ing Spirit, surges through Jesus-trusters, fills them up, energizes them, empowers them. Notice that the Spirit-grid operates counter to the Law-grid, where people get what they deserve. Here, people get what they don’t deserve. Call it the kingdom of heaven.
Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): The Power of Hope
To be energized by King Jesus’ alternate power completely changes life. Relief, joy, and hope well up inside his grateful subjects. There is no longer any need to fear the super powers of the Law. They’ve been defused of their clout. Instead, this new, renewing, refreshing alternate power prompts love, concern, and action for the hopeless, for the stressed-out, anxious, rat-race-driven victims of the old power grid. Jesus’ happy subjects gladly coax, “Come join us, the kingdom of heaven is for you too! Be a king’s kid.” Or, to put it in Paul’s words, “I pray … you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power!” (vv. 18, 19).