Another post on the idols we allow in our live but may not realize they are truly an idol. Dr. Shaw spoke on the idol of power a couple of weeks ago.
The story is set in Acts 8:4-24. Power as an idol - that's really not a new thought but the presentation was from a slightly different view and it really hit home. We see the abuse of power all throughout history and in our world today. Governments abuse of power of the people, dictators abuse of power for control, and even closer to home - parents abuse of power to control children (even when they've grown and are adults), pastors abuse of power over church members. Yes - it happens - even in a church. Pastors are human and are vulnerable to the same temptations as everyone else.
However - this idol of power is of a slightly different sort. Philip had been sent by God to Samaria to preach the Gospel to the people there. Samaritans were hated by the Jewish people and most refused to have anything to do with them. However, when Philip was called, he immediately went to Samaria. He refused to give into the hatred and recognized they were created in the image of God, just like the Jewish people. Simon the Sorceror was a citizen of Samaria and heard Philip's preaching. He accepted Jesus and was saved, as were many others. When Peter and John came to the town where Simon lived, he saw them demonstrate the great power of God and he really, REALLY wanted that same power! In fact, he offered to pay Peter and John for that power. Peter's response to him is one that we need to remember.
"May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right with God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord." Acts 8:20-22a
The power that Peter and John had was a gift of God and not something to be bought or earned! In our trip to Kenya in January, we saw churches (in poverty stricken areas, HIV/AIDS impacted areas) that were filled with the power of God. People willing to do what God asked them to do, to go where God asked them to go without hesitation or questions - and working in the power of God to accomplish His purposes. Dr. Shaw was a missionary on the field for many years and has taken many mission trips. His view of the church is very much like we saw in Kenya - churches in India, China, Africa, closed countries to the Gospel - filled with the power of God! Working to make His name known to all nations. But churches in America - a country of affluence and openness - are weak with no real feeling of the power of God!
We desperately need to be reminded of God's power that is the gift to us. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 1:7 "God did not give us a spirit of weakness (timidity) but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline." (Italics are my input)
Power can be an idol but the power of God is a gift to be used for His glory and His purposes! Make His name famous to all the world! May it be so and let it begin with me, Father!