What happens when God’s power breaks in to our world? Far more than what is immediately apparent. For every time God’s power breaks in, the whole universe is changed, rippling out from the epicentre. In Jesus, all things are being reconciled, to God, and to each other.
Here is a current example. Some of us have been praying for a friend who has been profoundly deaf since he had life-threatening meningitis at three months old. Last week he reported being able to hear a text arrive on his mobile phone, without his hearing aids in; to hear background music; and to be able to feel his ears for the first time (along with deafness, nerve damage had left his ears numb). Praise God! Then he reported something else: having been colour-blind, he could see colour. But we hadn’t prayed about that!
What was going on? Well, every time God’s power breaks in through us as we exercise the power and authority Jesus has given his disciples, the effect is far greater than the immediate focus of our prayer. The immediate focus is only the epicentre. Epicentres are often deep beneath the surface – we might not see an immediate response – but the waves roll outward.
Of course, the greatest impact is closest to the epicentre ... and if God’s power breaks in as we pray there are at least two subjects in the epicentre: the person or situation we are praying for, and the person or persons praying. (And, indeed, a third: God himself, the source of the power in question.)
It is impossible for God’s power to flow through us in such a way that another life is transformed without ourselves also being transformed. We do not exercise God’s power from a position of power – of patronage – but in exercising God’s power we share in the transformation of the universe, as it is being reconciled.
But it is easy to miss that ‘being transformed’ element of being an agent of true transformation.
Jesus was fully human, and, being fully human, was fully part of the created order. Every time Jesus exercised the Father’s power, he was changed, the universe was changed: being reconciled. And Jesus was fully God, was fully part of the creating Trinity. Every time he acted in the power of the Holy Spirit, God was changed, in relationship with creation: being reconciled. (God remains true to his revealed nature and purpose – that is, is unchanging – precisely by allowing himself to be changed, through incarnation, passion, death, resurrection, ongoing reconciliation.)
Transformation: being changed: being reconciled:
The poor will never be lifted out of poverty unless the rich are changed in such a way that they no longer have a consuming appetite for wealth. The elderly will not know dignity until those in the prime of life are changed in such a way that they embrace their own mortality. And God does not merely want to open the ears of the physically deaf and the eyes of the colour-blind, but to open the ears of all our hearts to hear his voice, so easily drowned-out by other voices, and the eyes of all our hearts, that see the world in monochrome and accept that that is all there is.
At the epicentre, those praying and those prayed for. Around the epicentre, witnesses: all of whom will be changed, as they respond positively or negatively to what they have seen and heard. And beyond: perhaps we will never know in what ways, but the whole universe is changed, to its farthest reaches.
What have you seen God do for someone else as you have prayed?
How have you been changed by being at the epicentre of that particular break-in of power?