After an intense confrontation with Pharaoh Moses leads the Israelites out of slavery into a new kind of life. It is not the life they are hoping for and because of their grumblings, it is going to be a long trip before they reach their destination. It is because of their sinfulness they do no quickly reach the promise land, but the promise remains that one day, they will arrive. This story is used in the New Testament to represent another kind of exodus; it is the exodus we find ourselves in today. Jesus has set us free but we are not yet at our destination. We now wander through our own wilderness as ambassadors for the true King.
It is the story of the old exodus that Paul alludes to as a way to instruct us on how to live during our current journey. Paul writes in Colossians “…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all POWER according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”
The power that Paul is praying for them to have is not the power to conquer enemies or topple kingdoms; no, the power he wants them to have is power to endure the wandering with patience. He goes on to say in the next verse that our patience and endurance should be married with thanksgiving and Joy to the Father.
Very rarely do we consider the ability to endure patiently with joy and thankfulness a display of power. The kind of power the world chases is contrary to the kind of power that God provides. We want to overpower our enemies but God calls us to overcome our troubles by realizing that we are simply passing through on our way to the Promised Land. The world fights violently to hold onto territories and countries it has won through the force of armies, while we are recognize that no matter where we are, we are not citizens of some geographical location but are instead citizens of heaven.
The current political landscape is such that it exposes the many things wrong with the marriage of evangelical Christianity and it’s often unhealthy relationship with politics. When we fear we might be loosing worldly political power we often sacrifice our Christian integrity in hopes that a person with political prowess will rally to our cause. Woody Guthrie famously sang, “this land is your land, this land is my land.” But the opposite is true for a Christian. This land is not my land. I am an alien and an ambassador of a King and a kingdom that the world does not know.
This is why the power Paul speaks of is so important. He does not pray that they gain political power, influence, or safety from foreign oppressors. He prays that they learn to endure whatever their situation is with thankfulness and Joy. It is this example that we are to set. We are to show a world caught up in the storm of politics, that although some of the discussions are important, it does not define us nor does it cause us to loose our joy. This is a great opportunity to show others on both sides of the political spectrum that we are a patient and loving people who can endure good and bad times with a steadfast thankfulness. It is that kind of power that God gives, and it is far more powerful than any political position man could obtain.
Caleb is lead pastor at Logos Church and enjoys writing about pop culture, Star Wars, Jesus and what effective ministry might look like in Tulsa.