“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” – Colossians 1:29 (ESV)
We are living in an energy crisis. I’m not talking about a shortage of gas but trying to find enough energy to deal with the ever-increasing demands of this life. When we take on too much and hit the wall, it is because our energy levels grew too low. Need proof: a lack of energy has spawned energy drinks which are now a multi-billion-dollar industry.
The Apostle Paul, of course, didn’t have the luxury of going to a local market and buying a Powerade or a Red Bull to replenish his energy supply. He depended on a different energy supply. His energy was supernatural. Paul operated under the power of the Holy Spirit, relying on Him to fuel his every action. Paul was not exempt from exerting tremendous effort. He “toiled” and “struggled.” But Paul was never striving in his strength alone. There was a mixture of human labor and divine energy. John Piper said it this way: “God does not work instead of our working but through our working. God does not energize instead of our having energy; He energizes our energy.”
Picture a wind-up toy. If you wind it up, it will go for a little while – but then you must wind it up again to keep it going. It cannot continually wind itself up; nor can it run forever on an initial wind up. The toy requires constant intervention to continue. The same is true, in a much deeper way, of us. The energy to “go” comes from a source other than us. We cannot continue without God’s power, which works in us through the Holy Spirit. If we are not continually connecting with our power source, we will eventually become ineffective, tired, and frustrated.
Paul must have understood this truth because look at how he prayed for his brothers and sisters: “We pray that you would walk in the ways of true righteousness, pleasing God in every good thing you do. Then you’ll become fruit-bearing branches, yielding to his life, and maturing in the rich experience of knowing God in his fullness! And we pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope.” (Colossians 1:10-11)
And so Paul prays that the body of Christ will be strengthened with all might according to God’s glorious power, reminding us that the strength we received is not of ourselves but from God. However, Scripture also teaches that God provides the energy, positivity, and focus that we need, in more than one way. There is the vertical way: prayer, the Bible, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and surrender to Him. These are the means by which God sources us directly. But the second way is horizontal. God provides for us indirectly through people: their love, support, wisdom, and direction. People can be a “delivery system” for the grace of God. We should be an “energy source” for each other, keeping ourselves and others energized and growing.
Unity is the fuel for optimizing and utilizing the “fuel” that comes from the church. So look for practical and useful ways to tap into the energy source of God and the church.
- How would you describe the level of your energy?
- What can we do this week to tap into the power of God and the power of the church?