Paul once used the Greek word hyperballo to give an extravagant description of the strength of Christ at work in the church, and he linked it with another forceful word – megathos = vast power. The phrase occurs only once in the NT, and it presents the strongest possible description of what we possess in Christ – “How far beyond all measure is the almighty power of Christ at work in us who believe!” (Ep 1:19)
Our problem, of course, is this: at first sight such descriptions seem far removed from reality, out of touch with the facts of the everyday life of most Christian people! But the apostle is affirming the sure victory of the church in its conflict with the world, with its philosophy of might makes right, its admiration of riches, its adulation of power, strength, achievement, material success.
Against this power the church brings its philosophy of humility, love, gentleness, self-denial, sacrifice on behalf of others. On the face of it, the contest is absurdly unequal! How can the church, with its softly loving weapons, hope to defeat the world, with its ruthless force?
But we serve the King of kings, whose ultimate and absolute victory is assured in heaven and on earth (cp. Da 7:9,10,13,14; etc). and we belong to a kingdom whose ruling principle is love. Indeed, this is the highest expression of the “immeasurably great” power of Christ in us
- once we lived by the rule of hate, now we are governed by love
- once we were controlled by the principle of greed, but now we are more eager to give than to receive
- once we were driven by the need for revenge, but now we are quick to forgive
- once we lived only for ourselves, now our focus is upon the welfare of others!
This change from what we were to what we are in Christ is one that nothing but the power of God himself could have accomplished.
Unhappily, Christians have often forgotten these things, and have resorted instead to worldly weapons; they have tried to turn the “immeasurable power of Christ” into a thing of muscle and money, of influence and tyranny, of command and control.
But as Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword”
So we are challenged to remain true to our calling in Christ, to believe in the invincibility of divine love, to find there our greatest realisation of the limitless power of Christ at work in us.