Power. Everyone wants it, and sometimes at any price. I heard the other morning that one candidate seeking the White House in this Fall's US election has already spent 500 million dollars to promote himself as the man who should be the next leader of his party. Despite that, he did not survive Super Tuesday. The money, surely better used in more philanthropic ways, was wasted on self-promotion and the lust for power.
But power is the name of everyone's game—political or otherwise. As a society, we are often willing to sacrifice anything, everything, and anyone, to gain it, to be the top dog of whatever "kingdom", big or small, represents our personal world. We lust for control, thinking that such control will allow us to bend others to our will. And even when our motives are as pure as the driven snow before human footprints and tire tracks turn it to brown mush, power doesn't always lead to real change. Those of us who are relatively powerless tend to conform to the demands of those who hold the power. But like the little boy who, because of his disobedience, was told to sit in the corner with his face to the wall, we mutter, "I may be sitting down outside, but I'm standing up inside!" We do what we are told, but nothing has really changed.
Paul, as a committed evangelical—the messenger of the good news of Jesus—knew where real power lay. He knew that there was only one thing that could really produce lasting change in society.
He writes in Romans 1: 16, 17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
The power of God changes the hearts of men. He reveals Himself to them and, as they understand their sinful state before a holy God, gives them faith to believe, to repent, and to be saved. That same faith is exercised as they commit to walking as Christ walked, believing that as they do so the Spirit of God will transform them into true image-bearers—those who look and act like Jesus.
The Gospel, the evangel, the good news of Jesus, is the power of God. Paul was not ashamed to be a messenger of that good news.
Neither should we be.
If we expect to see society transformed in any sort of positive way, we must commit ourselves to that evangel. For the power of true change only lies in an encounter with Jesus.