Summary: We are powerless to change things only because we give power away and do not know how to reclaim it. We can do so first by affirming that change comes only through Jesus Christ, and then by believing that He partners with us when we pray. To do any less
We are never powerless. We think we are. We think we
cannot change the things that trouble us. But in fact we are
never powerless. We just give away our power.
We give away our power and do not know how to claim it
again. Those who have power over us have it only because
we let them have it.
The President of the United States is described as the most
powerful man on earth. For example, he is Commander-in-
Chief of all our armed forces. But he cannot at will do
whatever he wants with our military muscle. He must
operate within the law, he must consult with Congress, and
the President must win and keep the consent of the
American people. Viet Nam showed us that. So even the
most powerful man on earth has power only as we the
people give it. We are never powerless. Those who have
power over us have it only because we let them have it.
Sometimes I get a little envious of my colleagues in other
branches of Zion. Catholic priests and Episcopalian rectors
and Methodist pastors have power. They have authority,
and their people are supposed to do what Pastor says.
When Father Harmon was installed as rector of our
neighboring church, Trinity, Bishop Dixon admonished the
congregation to follow his guidance and treat him well, or
else, she said, “You will reckon with the bishop.” Must be
nice! I wonder where I can find a Baptist bishop!
And yet, I will wager that even in churches where the pastor
has power unlike anything known in a democratically
governed Baptist church, those pastors discover that really,
their power comes from their people. The pastor cannot lead
them where they refuse to go. Church people are never
powerless. They just give their power away. None of us are
without power. Those who have power over us have it only
because we give away our power.
I hear many of us talking about being powerless. I hear us
saying there is nothing we can do about the things that
trouble us. Nothing we can do about our own brokenness.
Nothing we can do about the plight of others. Nothing we
can do to change things. Too many of us feel powerless.
We feel frustrated at the immensity of our problems, and so
we give up. “What’s the use?” And we surrender without a
fight. We believe that against the forces of evil, against the
stubborn mischief of others around us, and against our own
shortcomings, we are powerless.
But we are never powerless. That is not what the Bible
teaches us. That is not what Christians who know their faith
believe. We are taught that we are never powerless. The
most wrong-headed, damaging, and blasphemous thing we
can say is that we are powerless to do anything about evil in
this world. It is wrong-headed because it ignores the facts.
It is damaging because it holds people back. It is
blasphemous because it means that we think that God is
powerless. No, hear the word of God: God is never
powerless; and so, we are never powerless.
But we do give away our power. We need to learn how to
claim it again, so that we are never powerless.
To do that, first we have to affirm that it is in Jesus Christ
and in Him alone that there is power to change anyone. We
have tried all kinds of strategies to effect change, but I
submit to you that anything that does not have at its core the
redeeming power of Jesus Christ is doomed to fail. In Jesus
Christ and in Him alone is there power to change.
Jesus was working to prepare His disciples so that they
could function once He left them. Jesus knew that He could
not stay with them and hold their hands for everything. They
would have to be responsible for their own lives and for their
world. That meant that Jesus would empower them. He
said something most challenging:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in
me ... I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through me.”
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” That means, don’t feel
powerless. But know that in Him, in Jesus, there is the way
that lives are changed. If you want to feel empowered; if you
want to hope that your own brokenness or that the issues
others around you face can be dealt with, you must begin
with this: that in Jesus Christ and in Him alone there is the
power to change.
I know that this is a controversial point. I know that what I
am saying is not politically correct. We live in America,