Powerful may seem a bit different as a way of describing the life of Jesus and the message of the gospel. The word power usually brings to mind such things as explosives, tornados, and nuclear explosions. By definition it describes anything that exercises great force. A good public address may be powerful in that it moves people to action. Patriotism is powerful in that it moves people to give their lives on the battlefield. It is in this same way that the Good News of Christ’s redemptive entry into this world is powerful – it continues to exercise a dynamic influence in the lives of men and nations.
As Jesus walked among us he had an enormous influence on the crowds to whom he ministered. The sick were brought to him and were healed, demons were cast out, withered limbs were restored, the mute could hear, and on more than one occasion the dead were restored to life. Without fan flare he went through Galilee, not calling attention to the dramatic events that kept happening in every town and village, but taking care of human need.
What about today? Is the gospel message as powerful as it used to be? Part of the answer is to look at the influences of the Judea-Christian in western civilization. It is not by accident that educational institutions began in connection with the gospel. The now independent Princeton University was founded as a school to train men for the ministry. Hospitals began out of Christian concern for the sick and disabled. Humanitarian groups were founded by men and women who wanted to be of significant help to the society. The power of the gospel through out time is incredible.
And in what way is Jesus and his message powerful in our current secular culture? One example will illustrate the power of the gospel. We’ll call him Jim. He was born in poverty in the Kentucky countryside. He told me that he was fourteen before he ever slept in a bed. Beds cost money and with some 8 siblings not everyone could have such a luxury. No one in his family had ever gone to school beyond grade school but Jim decided to do that any way. Somewhere along the line Christ came into his life and now natural inclination was supported by a brand new power. It’s a long story but after paying his own way through college he went into Campus ministry and continued graduate study. For some 30 years he has been sharing the powerful message of Christ to a countless number of young college kids. Almost forgot to tell you, along the way he earned a PhD and now lectures on leadership.
How did that happen? The answer is simple. As Paul puts it, the gospel is “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). There is no doubt about it – when it comes to the Good News made possible by Christ, P is for Powerful.