The Inferior Powers & The Work Of Worship

The inferior powers are always at work around us. Will you give them your allegiance?

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

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The great Victorian pastor and poet, George Herbert, once wrote in his poem, “To All Angels And Saints” these words: “All worship is prerogative… therefore we dare not from his garland steal, to make a posey (poem) for inferior power.”

While the meaning of Herbert’s poetry may not be immediately clear, I’ll offer one interpretation: “We get to choose Who we worship… but to steal glory from the all-powerful God to make a worship offering to some inferior power – that would be downright criminal.”

Inferior powers are active all around us, and the enemy of our souls is always out to convince us that they hold more power than they actually do. Think about the powers raging all around you right now – political powers, financial powers, celebrity powers, media powers, personal powers, spiritual powers, sin powers – all the powers that grab our attention and call us to submit to their glory. It’s a weighty list, and left to ourselves, human beings have been falling to their sway for millennia.

But Colossians chapter 2, verse 5 comes to the rescue of human beings – so easily swayed by our vulnerability to power (remember the message of the Lord of the Rings?). The power-confronting work of Christ on the cross was to disarm all the powers that demand our homage, and to even put them on public display to show their powerlessness by exposing them to the confounding power-reversal of the cross!

The Lord of all things met personal power with humility, financial power with poverty, political power with servanthood. Real power met inferior power with humility, poverty, and servanthood. And in the conflict, the inferior powers lie broken on the ground. There is no contest.

So what does this have to do with worship? We gather from all the worlds where the power-plays are being exerted on us, day in and day out, and we sing the praises of God! We pray! We read the Scriptures! We fellowship as the family of Christ! We remember! We take our place as the lead worshippers of creation!

And the Spirit disciples us through our worship, and forms us through our words and prayers, to become a people who won’t give up our heart-allegiance to any inferior power.

As the “world spins madly on” (to quote the Weepies), worship gives us an opportunity to rise from the anxieties of our time and to walk as those aware of the inferior powers at work to win us – those who call others to worship the Lord our God, and to serve Him only (Luke 4:8).

Prayer

Spirit of God, the times and the season we are in can push us to our limits, and suck us into believing that all the powers around are in ultimate control. But we remember, here before You, they are not. You are in control, and Your purposes will not be thwarted by the work of any inferior power. Help us, Spirit of God, to remind ourselves of this daily through worship.

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