• Hughson T. Ong

Power, Faith, and Lifestyle

Faith. Lifestyle. Power. Three mundane words but impregnable realities in our post-postmodern, post-millennial world. We don’t need to define them; we experience these realities. We embrace a type of faith. We adopt a kind of lifestyle. And we desire some form and amount of power. We use power to achieve our goals, fulfill our plans, and influence others. We enjoy the benefits of having power, yet we frequently ignore its adverse effects on the lives of others while it serves our purposes. Most importantly, we often overlook how our use of power has affected our faith and lifestyle.

Power, corrupted power to be precise, is our faith’s greatest and fiercest enemy.

It is destructive. This is why in the beginning, power solely resided in and belonged to God, our Creator. Humans were only given the power (or freedom) to select between two choices in their relationship with God—obey or disobey—that was their only power (Gen. 2:16-17). Power was unidirectional, binary, and straightforward.

Power wasn’t created, tinkered, manipulated, and abused.

Power, however, was eventually abused by one creature. Since then, creation was put under his charge, at least, temporarily (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 17:15; Eph. 2:2; 1 Jn. 5:19). This creature’s plan is to abuse his power (Job 1:12) and to entice his followers (Gen. 3:5) with the appeal and allure of power. We know this story, but perhaps we have forgotten how this creature’s ambition and appetite for power altered God’s original plan and set creation in the wrong direction. He is successful and so are his followers. But only in the meantime to be sure. Life is transitory, and there is an end to everything.

James says,“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (Jas. 4:14).

James addresses the rich and the business people during his day, but his words nevertheless speaks loudly to all of us and to our present lifestyle. When we go about our daily routine without prayer, when we make decisions without spiritual reflection, when we devise and implement plans our way, and when we accomplish our goals using human power and influence, we naturally become James’s target. Even when everything goes according to plan, James urges us to pause and ponder over our life and lifestyle.

Faith isn’t an exercise of human power and influence. Rather, it’s a manifestation of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will through us. That is why it is a lifestyle.

Faith will never mean success and productivity because it goes beyond that of a prosperous, happy, and comfortable lifestyle, or even that of a religious and spiritual lifestyle. Faith transcends that which is visible, practical, and temporary. When you feel you’re wrestling with the wicked trends of society (1 Jn. 2:16) and battling against the power structures of this world (Eph. 6:12), you know that your faith is working in and through your lifestyle. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Christ followers should lifestyle faith, the constant renewing of the mind and transformation of the heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 12:1-2), and not lifestyle power, the relentless yearning for power and learning how to control everything.