Meditations in Colossians: 46. The Energy of God
Col 1:29 To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me
There are some things that appear in the Bible that seem so obvious that they don’t even warrant us to pause over them, and yet the truth is that because they are obvious we miss them, taken them for granted and thus fail to appropriate them. Paul has been speaking about the Gospel which he has been called by God to deliver. Now imagine Paul sitting in a deckchair on a Mediterranean beach somewhere, relaxing in the sun and eventually finds himself thinking, “I really ought to share this wonderful Gospel with somebody one of these days.” Now I hope your response to that is the same as mine: “Paul, sitting in a deckchair relaxing? Wondering whether to share the Gospel? You’ve got to be joking! This is not the Paul I know and read of in the New Testament!”
Absolutely right! That picture is about as far from the real Saul of Tarsus as you can possibly get. Everything we read about this man says, no, he is all out for God, all out for the Gospel, all out for new believers, all out for the church! And he doesn’t sit around wondering about it; he gets up and does the stuff. If he can’t get to one of the churches he’s heard about, he’ll write to them – and he’ll certainly pray for them. Look at the words in this simple little verse: labour – struggling – energy – powerfully – works. This is all about strong action.
When he says, “To this end I labour,” he is speaking about expending energy to pass on the Gospel and teach the church. When he speaks of “struggling” he indicates and reminds us that it is hard work, often a battle. But then when he speaks of “all his energy”, he is talking about the power of the Holy Spirit who is his resource provided by Christ to enable him to work out his ministry, and then when he adds, “which so powerfully works in me,” he acknowledges that the Holy Spirit is his motivating force, his driving force, his energizing force, his power force. He is what he is because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit acting like a power turbine providing all the energy he needs. But the Spirit is more than this for He also provides motivation and direction, He puts burdens on Paul’s heart which stir him into action.
Now we may be thinking, why isn’t it like that for all of us? There are two answers that come to mind. The first is that the energizing of the Spirit is directly proportional to our heart desires. There is a mystery here, why some people are all out for God, some are for Him but to say they are ‘all out’ would be an over-statement, and then there are some who are definitely half-hearted and others who appear stationary. But why are we all different? I don’t know. As I said that is a mystery. What I do know is that the Holy Spirit will be there to take us as far as we want and I am sure that if we see little signs of His activity it is either out of ignorance or lack of will – our ignorance and lack of will, never His! If you truly set your heart to go all out for God, He WILL energize you and guide you and lead you out in new ways.
But there is a second thought: we DO get this energizing without realizing it. Despite what I have said above, I am sure the Lord takes us into what He sees we are capable of handling. For instance if, say, He took me into signs and wonders ministry, would my pride be able to handle it or would I become conceited, arrogant and brash? Is He saving me from self-destruction because He sees my heart could not handle that ‘success’? Is this a cop out? No, I don’t believe it is. The loving Lord gives us what He knows we can handle. Here’s a list of things that I believe the Holy Spirit will energize us into doing well: being a good wife or husband, being a good parent, being a good boss or worker, being a good servant in the church or the community, becoming a teacher of His word, becoming a prayer warrior, becoming an encourager, becoming a bringer of His prophetic word or words of knowledge, becoming a leader in worship, becoming a powerful deliverer, becoming a healer, becoming a miracle worker, becoming an evangelist…..
We’ll stop there. Here’s the point: as you read through that list you may have heard certain feelings about where you felt comfortable in that list. God gives us the faith to enter into the things He sees we’re good for. Check out how you feel about each of those things in that list. NO one thing is better or greater than any others in that list. You may be a husband or wife, but you may be called to be single. You may be a boss or a worker, but that is only what you are today; in five years time it may be different. The thought of ‘being out front’ at church may scare the life out of you, but you may be a bringer of grace, mercy and encouragement to others and that is just as great.
Listen to Paul’s words to the Romans: “think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Rom 12:3-6) When we come to Christ, we come with good things and bad things in our lives and we start a life of change, but the Lord knows us through and through and He knows exactly what is best for us, what we are best at, how far we can go, what we can achieve and He loves every one of us exactly as we are.
There are some things we can be sure of: Jesus died for us, God loves us, and we are now indwelt by His Holy Spirit. But then life is filled with variables: who I am, my natural characteristics, my spiritual characteristics that He is working in me, the things He has on His heart for me, the things I find my heart rising to. It is a complex mix but at the end of it, check out how open you are for Him to come in greater measure into your life, be aware of the heart yearnings that you have that may well have come from Him, and ask for revelation to recognize and understand more fully, his energy, which so powerfully works in me (and you!)