In his brilliant (!) book titled The Drama of Ephesians author Timothy G. Gombis writes about how God used the preaching of the Apostle Paul from a prison cell to confound the powers. In Roman society it would seem that the gods had been victorious over the Lord Jesus Christ since his apostolic herald was sitting in jail, but this is exactly how God works. From such a position the gospel rings forth, creating the church, boggling the mind of evil powers.
Gombis notes how evangelicals tend to avoid this method. We do not want to preach Christ from a place of humility in order to see the power of God at work. Rather, we often play by societies rules of power and prestige. Gombis writes this rebuke (p. 119):
“Evangelical culture, at least in the United States, is almost completely beholden to triumphalism—the notion that God is magnified through human power, prestige, political influence and outward success. We love it when we see our leaders sitting with presidential candidates talking earnestly over policy and international relations. We do not recognize, however, that often we are being played: candidates are merely looking to gather support from a potentially huge pool of votes. If it takes mentioning God here and there and talking about family values, then candidates will do that while posing for pictures with the evangelical leader of the moment. Is this too cynical? In my view, it may not be cynical enough! I would have thought that we had learned our lesson by now. Billy Graham realized decades ago that he was being used as a prop to earn favor with evangelicals and vowed not to be used in such a way again. It seems that every year or so we are embarrassed by another evangelical leader, ambitious to gain political powers, compromised in the process. The temptation is great to matter in a wider culture that seems out of control. But if we pay attention to how Paul plays his role in God’s triumph, we would not be hunting for political power or social prestige.”
I couldn’t have said it better! God, let us remember your gospel is powerful in our weakness. Sadly, we often weaken it in our craving for power.