By any standards the apostle Paul was a man of astonishing endurance and effectiveness. And yet he claimed that this emerged from a sense of extreme personal weakness. The Lord had promised him that "My grace is sufficient for you, for (my) power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of the Messiah may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
How can this kind of power work for the weakest of us humans? Paul maintained that it was the same power of the Holy Spirit that energized Jesus. "He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God" (2 Corinthians 13:4). By that power the eternal Son of God was able to empty himself of heaven’s glory and take birth in the womb of Mary. She was told that "The Holy Spirit will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will called the Son of God" (Luke1:35; Philippians 1:5-7).
On Good Friday it was the power of the Spirit that replaced Jesus’ mangled and crucified body with his resurrection body. And even more astonishing is the fact that the power of the Spirit will also give us our resurrection bodies. "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). No scientist could conceive of such a power.
No wonder Paul said "I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith" (Romans 1:16). In the New Testament the Greek word for power is dunamis (from which our word dynamite is derived). And there are hundreds of ways in which this power can work in our lives and in a church. "God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will" (Hebrews 2:4, see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). We need this power to overcome discouragement and paralysis. Paul prayed, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:11, 2 Peter 1:3).
But the power of the Holy Spirit awaits our willingness to receive it. The one thing common to artists, composers, writers, and creative people of all kinds is that self-confident pride is a sure recipe for mediocrity. But if we sense our weakness and look to the power of the Holy Spirit, all sorts of unexpected results will emerge (Ephesians 1:19).
This is the beautiful gift that God has in mind for us this Christmas.