Monday, December 12, 2011

What is strength?

A prayer from Paul in Ephesians 3:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
I love these verses.  I love inspiring prayers written by guys who planted churches that changed the world.  I love the imagery that pops into my head when I imagine just for a moment what the huge warehouse of God's "glorious, unlimited resources" might look like glimpsed from the door.  And I love the idea that as I learn to trust Jesus that he will make his home in my heart and that somehow through that process, I will gain inner strength and deep, strong roots.

Except that the more I thought about it, the less I understood what Paul was trying to say.

At first, I thought I'd peek over into a different translation, given the fact that the New Living Translation (from which the above is drawn) might be a little too free with its word choice.  Only that just made things worse.  From the New American Standard, the most literal and technical of the usual English suspects, says this:
...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man...
Strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man...  What does that feel like on an ordinary day?  What exactly is the inner man, in relation to the rest of me walking around? What sort of strength does Paul have in mind?  Strength to do what?  And what relationship does this have with the "God's strength is made perfect in our weakness" theology?


Big Mike Lewis said...

Happy to see you posting again!

Chris Flores said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Flores said...

I'm not sure how accurate I am here, but like the trinity, I believe there is the trinity of man. Body, Soul, and Spirit. With this in mind, I believe that the spirit is our inner man. I believe it is the part of us that only God can touch. It is the deepest part of us. The core. I also tend to think that it is deeper than feelings. I could be wrong, but I think emotions/feeling are part of the soul. Ive also heard that our body and soul continue to die and are not renewed, but our spirit which will live forever can constantly be renewed (I Cor. 4:16). So strengthening the inner-man is definitely the starting point of this prayer which then leads to the fullness of God. I think all we can do is ask for God to strengthen our inner man and expect for HIM to follow through, nothing else we can do. Now, where this gets interesting is, if asking is all we have to do, then why don't I do it? For me, it is the fear of the unknown. What does the fullness of God really look like in my life? Will it change my life too much? Well the answer might be simple enough this. We will display the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace...) in our lives rather than feeling these fruits. I think I learned that from you! Anyway good stuff!

Jason Campbell said...

Great insights, Chris, thanks for taking the time to respond!