For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 NLT
Three words, that can often seem at odds with each other, lay the foundation for our Christian faith: word, power and assurance. I have found myself at times drowning in words, all true, yet none able to quite gift me the life and hope I require when facing what I perceive as impossible odds. Words alone offer truth, yet can lack the power to sustain mortal life in the face of crisis. So, loss of a job, the long-term sickness of a relative, the onset of cancer, present mountains to climb. Words from the scriptures and pulpit remain true, yet can offer little by way of a source of practical strength to continue.
Sustaining Christian faith in such circumstances, or on the many steps en route, requires God’s power. This is the supernatural ability to take comfort in God and retain confidence in God’s ability when all seems bleak. Our pulpits and major Christian events may lack many who speak in any authentic way about such power. As disciples we can find ourselves bombarded with beautifully crafted litanies of words that try to make up in ornamentation what they lack in power – a power to generate resilience and adaptability, both on the part of those obviously excluded but also among Christianity’s apparent beneficiaries.
You may, like me, feel “worded out”. The message from Jesus is short and simple: “Follow me!” A way marked by miracle, resilience and compassion, a life of simplicity, a life that touched rich and poor, female and male, sinner and saint. Maybe one reason the gospel appears to have lost its attraction in Western culture is that its adherents’ words speak louder than their actions.
Have you an appetite for the life-giving power of God?
Lead me in your ways, Lord Jesus. May my words be true and be twinned with your power.