One of my duty assignments as a cop was in the Detective Bureau. We wore suits and sports coats. Underneath my coat and resting on my belt was a holster holding my handgun, spare ammunition, and handcuffs. I still owned one of those sports coats when I entered the ministry 36 years ago.
One day before church as I was putting on my coat when it opened up revealing the silk lining. I noticed a round hole worn through the lining. For a second, I was confused. Then I realized what I was seeing. The hole was there because of the constant rubbing of my revolver against the inside of my coat lining. Hundreds of times each day a cop instinctively rubs his or her elbow against the butt of their duty weapon to make sure it is still there and secure. As I recalled that story it happened to come on the day I was reading through the book of I Corinthians.
Commentators have remarked that the church in Corinth resembles, in many ways, the church in modern western culture. To the Corinthians, Paul asked a critical question. That question applies today more than ever.
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. Which do you choose?” I Corinthians 4:20-21
We have gotten good at preaching and orchestrating an appealing worship experience. We are culturally sensitive and can even present a palatable argument to our most ardent adversaries. But, when we rub our spiritual elbow against our side is the power of God still there?
Power can be demonstrated in many different ways. It is not limited to signs, wonders, and miracles. God’s power is required to supernaturally open a door of unusual opportunity or it can elevate an unlikely person to the top of a mountain of cultural influence. God gives us His power to do what is not possible in our own abilities. We are called to wear that power every day like a detective wears a sidearm. Without the exercise of God’s power in our life and ministries we are no more effective than a well-meaning non-believer when facing spiritually dark forces.
Like a detective dressed in a sports coat and looking official, you can go for a season hoping your demeanor of authority will get you through most situations. But there will come a time when you need to back up that authority with more than just your demeanor. In those times you will act like I did was when I was a detective knocking on a suspect’s door and dropping my elbow down to tap the butt of my weapon to make sure it was still there. That kind of motion makes the devil nervous because when he sees you recognizing what you carry he knows he doesn’t have a chance to effectively combat against the authority and power you bring to the fight.