Did you know, there are over 650 occurrences of the word “power” in the Bible? Dunamis, a Greek word for power, occurs 120 times in the New Testament and means “strength” or “ability.” It is used to describe, for example, the power of God (Matthew 22:29), the power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), and the power of evil spirits (I Corinthians 15:24).
J. Lawrence Burkholder’s experiences as a relief worker in China in 1947 caused him to think about the nature of power. His dissertation, “The problem of social responsibility from the perspective of the Mennonite church,” was completed in 1958 but not published at the time because it challenged Mennonite teachings.
In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul shares a message he received from God in response to his personal struggles: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
The bleeding woman touches Jesus’ cloak, in an image from the catacombs in Rome. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
I got into an interesting discussion with a friend from my church recently. In adult ed., we were talking about liberation theology and its view of sin. (You can read about liberation theology and sin here.)
Every now and then a familiar story comes to new meaning. A recent re-reading of the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 pushes me into an area of discomfort that challenges my identity and my understanding of our identity as a faith community. It makes me question our responses to Jesus' unexpected ways of transforming people. It causes me to wonder how good my vision is after all.
During our trip to Canada for the Christmas break, I was surprised how many times I heard the same story. It goes something like this: They are trying to get us not to say "Merry Christmas" and to say "Happy Holidays" instead because someone might get offended. If they are offended by Christmas, they can go back to their own country. After all, if we were in their country, we would have to follow their traditions.
Andrew Suderman, right, preaches at Harvest Time Ministries, a church located in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa, with Pastor Ntapo handling translation duties. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)
Throughout the Bible, God embodies--and challenges us to embody--a method that challenges the assumption that success, power and influence are gained by focusing on us. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Suderman)
One thing that I find so inspiring in South Africa is the countless people who participate in miraculous activities as they strive to make their communities better.