Series: “Living with the Power of the Holy Spirit”
I was thinking the other day about this scenario: What if you had never met any Christians, and had never attended a Christian church? Let’s say you are Chinese and all you have is a tattered copy of the Bible.
You get to the New Testament, and at John’s Gospel, especially chapters 14 & 16, you hear Jesus’ promise of a different kind of God – a God who lives in you. A God within you who delivers a new power to you. A power that will never leave you. You read on in Acts, watching as this promise of Holy Spirit power manifests itself in the Apostles’ lives. Wow!
Peter and the disciples are preaching boldly in the face of death, speaking in foreign languages they’ve never known. Buildings are rumbling and jails are crumbling. The apostles are performing healing miracles. Ananias and Sapphira are dropping dead because they “lied to the Holy Spirit.”
You can’t help but think, “Whoa, I don’t really understand this Holy Spirit thing, but this power must be something to see!”
Now, after a time, you get the opportunity to visit America, and for the first time the opportunity to meet these Christians you’ve been reading about. “What will they be like?” you think to yourself. “Will they be super-humans? Spiritual 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. Jesus promised it; Jesus guaranteed it. You may not know a lot about the Bible, but one thing you do know: if Jesus promised it, it has to be true.
This incredible power happened to everyone – everyone! – who placed their saving trust in Jesus.
“This is going to be great!” you exclaim. You have lived among ordinary people all your life. You’ve witnessed first-hand their C- lives. You’ve seen the vast majority just getting through the day, coping with their ups and downs as best they can manage. No Spirit, no power.
They don’t know what the missing link is, but now you do.
You plan your trip to arrive in the South, because you have been told it is, “The buckle of the Bible Belt,” whatever that means. As you arrive you are bursting with excitement to see these Holy Spirit-powered Christians. What will their Christian church services be like? Surely they will be filled with joy and thanksgiving, practically bursting with enthusiasm and gratitude. Will the roof be rumbling?
No doubt these Christians will have love, joy, peace, and patience. They’ll have compassion, kindness and humility. As Jesus said, 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.
Obviously they won’t be like everyone else, caught up in the rat-race of busyness and distraction. They won’t carry grudges; they won’t harbor resentment. How refreshing it will be to witness lives lived with a certainty that the world around them is a God-powered, God-saturated world.
The big day comes and as you walk down Main Street you eagerly look around for the Christians. But where are they? No one seems any different from anyone else. 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 around the community, you are left wondering, “What is that all about? What happened? Where are these Christians who are filled with Holy Spirit power?”
Eventually you sit down with someone who assures you, “I’ve been a Christian all my life, and that stuff you’re looking for? Well, that only happens with those weird people out in the country in those crazy churches. Normal people don’t act like that. Being a Christian is about doing good, and being good, and being a good member of the community. Nobody expects or even wants that kind of power.”
“But what about Jesus’ promise, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you?’” you stammer out, dazed and confused.
“Oh that,” he stiffens, “that was for back then. Nowadays we just do the best we can. Nobody expects, or even wants to see miracles, child. No need to get all worked up. Just stay with us a while and you’ll settle down and get used to the real world of religion. It’s comfortable. It’s practical. You’ll get used to it.”