I was thinking the other day about this scenario: What if you had never met any Christians, and had never attended a Christian church? All you had was the Bible. You had read the Old Testament, and saw the Spirit moving over the unformed earth. You had witnessed the Spirit moving into and away from the various characters in the O.T. stories. You had seen both Samson and King Saul move mightily with the Spirit, and you had seen the Spirit leave them, as they continually grieved Him.
Then you get to the New Testament, and at John’s Gospel, chapters 13-17, you hear Jesus’ promise of a new power. A power that will never leave you. You read on, watching as this promise of power plays out so obviously throughout the Apostles’ lives. Wow! And that’s not all: you continue to read the rest of the New Testament and you continue to see the promises of this A+ Life that is truly life, energized and fulfilled through this Holy Spirit.
You can’t help but think, “Whoa, this Holy Spirit must be something else!”
Now, after a time, you are going to get the opportunity to visit America for the first time, and for the first time to meet these Christians you’ve been reading about. “What will it be like?” you think to yourself? Will they be super-humans? Giants? Will they stand out in every crowd, shining like the sun?
“Of course they will! That’s the promise. It’s right there, throughout the New Testament. It’s everywhere, this promise, this power. It’s what happened to all those who placed their saving trust in that guy Jesus I’ve read about.
“This is going to be great!” you cannot help but think. You have lived among ordinary people all your life. You’ve witnessed first-hand their C- lives. You’ve seen plenty of people who are just getting through the day, coping with their ups and downs, as best they can manage.
You can see they are aware something is missing. They don’t know what this missing link is, but now you do!
What will these Christian worship services be like? Surely they will be filled with joy and thanksgiving. Of course there will be rejoicing and songs of praise, and people practically bursting with enthusiasm. You can just imagine that the energy in these worship services must be amazing.
You are so excited to meet these Christians. You’ve seen enough of the mundane lives around you. But these Christians, they will have to be so different from everyone else.
They’ll have love, joy, peace, and patience. They’ll have compassion, kindness and humility. As Jesus said over and over, they will be like fountains overflowing into the lives of everyone, with energy, clarity and creativity!
No C- lives for them, that’s for sure.
You wonder to yourself, “What will it be like to meet a person filled with the Holy Spirit? What will this promised power look like? Won’t they be beyond anxiety and worry? Won’t they have a peace that passes all understanding?
“And look at the promises of the Spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12!” you exclaim. “It will be amazing to see how these gifts manifest themselves in these special men and women!”
Surely they won’t be like everyone else, caught up in the rat-race of busyness, and competition. What a relief it will be to witness men and women who are not pressing. They are not reacting, and over-acting with a driving need to control and compete.
They won’t carry grudges; they won’t harbor resentment. How refreshing it will be.
How profound to witness lives lived with a certainty that the world around them is a God-saturated world.
And then comes the time for your trip. You plan your trip to arrive in the South; it is the Bible-Belt after all. You eagerly look around for these obvious Christians. But where are they? No one seems any different from anyone else. Okay, well maybe they are so different one only sees them in special places. So you continue your search. But …
As your desperation grows, you seek out the churches in the area. “Of course this is where I’ll see these spiritual giants!” you assure yourself.
But … after attending a few church services … “What is that all about??”
“What happened?? Where is? How could?” you gasp, confused and disoriented.
Need I go on? You know the rest of this story.
Most of us, the vast majority of us, live lives that look just like everyone else around us. You live with anxiety and uncertainty and fear. Some have more anxiety than others, but no one escapes this in their own power. And some of you are in complete denial of this. “My life is good, what are you talking about?” But oh come on, deep inside, you know something is missing. You know there’s more.
There’s got to be!
What is missing for many of you is simply the Holy Spirit. For many others of you it’s the power of the Holy Spirit.
He is the missing link. But it doesn’t have to be this way for you.
One last story: A little 10 year old boy wanted to build a fort, so he was in the backyard clearing out an area. His father watched as he struggled to move a large rock in his way. He was getting nowhere against this heavy rock, so his father walked out to help. He watched for a moment longer as the boy, determined to succeed, fought in quiet desperation.
Then the father said, “Son, I don’t think you are using all your power against that rock.” The boy glared at his dad and cried out in tears of frustration, “How can you say that! I’m giving it all I’ve got!”
The father smiled, and said, “But my beloved child, you’re not using all your strength, because you’re not using mine.”
What would you say to a God like this? A Heavenly Father who wants you to have his strength, who wants you to share in his power!
Now … what does all this mean to you? It’s not a rhetorical question. I’m challenging you: what does this mean to you?
Will you seek this power? Or will you continue to muddle along with your C- life, as is?
I can’t give you a formula for grasping this power – Jesus didn’t either, other than seek and you will find. But I can assure you, through Jesus’ own promises, He’s here, He’s real, and you can have this life.
May you hear the promise of Jesus, and reach out for the power of this A+ Life to the Full:
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? … 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11 Bold added