A couple months ago, my roommate Hayden hurt his shoulder. The pain was preventing him from doing what he loves to do which is surfing. Rarely does Hayden ever ask me to pray for him, but he apparently was in enough pain to push him over the vulnerable edge of asking me to pray for his shoulder. So I laid my hand on his shoulder, I prayed, and the pain left immediately. Hayden then went surfing the next morning and the pain hasn’t come back to this day.
So what exactly happened there? I took a risk, the power of the Holy Spirit flowed through me as a willing vessel, and Jesus did what he does best. This Power series I’m doing on this blog is really about my desire for myself to take more risks of Power. Hopefully this series can allow us all to see God in a whole new light and encourage us to step out in faith. I truly believe that it is essential to the Christian life to attempt the impossible.
Personally, I often feel like I may be boring the Holy Spirit with my lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I know God loves us unconditionally and is always radically proud of us. However, because I believe we are meant to have a relationship with Holy Spirit, I can’t shake the feeling that when I don’t live a lifestyle that allows God to act like God, maybe he gets bored?
Think about it. Everything that Jesus did in the Gospels was the Holy Spirit’s raw Power. Read the miraculous stories in the book of Acts. Read the heavenly wisdom of Paul’s epistles. Lose yourself in the mysterious and beautiful visions in the book of Revelation. One thing is clear about the Holy Spirit from the beginning to the end of the Bible and that is that He loves to have a fun time. The Holy Spirit is the Power of God in action. He loves setting people free, He loves healing people, He loves declaring the purposes of God into people’s lives, He loves transforming cities to look more and more like Heaven. It’s quite clear that these impossible things are activities that Holy Spirit is quite fond of. So why don’t I life a daily life that creates an avenue for him to do what he loves to do? Why would I ever quench him?
I pray that all believers and myself included would be awakened to the call of Matthew 10:7
“As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.’”
After Hayden had his shoulder healed, he had more faith to see God do the same thing in another person. He told me about his friend Joel who works near his job. Joel had hurt his knee and was in need of surgery. It sounded like a perfectly fine Power-opportunity to me so we went and prayed for him. Guess what? His knee was healed and the pain was gone.
Joel bent down and was doing some testing and a surprised smile crept up to his face and he was filled with joy. Naturally, that moment opened up the door to some more conversation about God and the moment was truly beautiful. Because it was about expressing God’s love more than displaying power, I made a new friend that day.
To be completely honest though, Joel ended up hurting the same knee soon after. I’m not fully aware of the story behind it, but it appears to me that either the knee may not have been completely restored or he truly just hurt it all over again. I’m not sure.
Here’s where the mystery comes in. I do believe that a miracle took place in that moment. But I can’t deny that the knee was hurt again. I wont claim to have God completely figured out, I think we need to allow room for mystery without us trying to be God’s defense attorneys. My job is to cry out to God alone and ask him why the pain came back to Joel, and to ask God to show me truths of the kingdom to prevent this from happening again. One response I can’t afford to make would be me losing faith in the truth of who God is – He is good, He is love, and He is healing.
The reason I told you the bad news of the situation is because I believe we need to be aware that this lifestyle is a journey and an adventure. As long as we continue to risk, we will see miraculous breakthrough, and we will also see failures. What’s important is that we grow from every experience and continue to run the race.
The Christian faith without power is no faith at all. The power that only God can provide is what keeps Christianity free from being an empty religious ritual and meaningless philosophy. I am not attacking other religions or belief systems, what I am attacking is what the American Christian life looks like when there is no power in it.
As a living representation of Christ’s Body on earth, it is a necessity for power to flow from our lives.
Now for whoever reads this, this truth will either frighten you, offend you, or excite you.
And, it is important to note that those are the exact responses that Jesus received during his earthly ministry. Because of his boldness and his effective power, the public was either afraid of him, offended by him, or excited because of him.
The political powers were afraid of him. Jesus, the prophesied King of the Jews, certainly held the power to sack the Roman government to establish the Kingdom of God in Jerusalem forever. This idea was so understood that King Herod ordered for the mass genocide of Hebrew babies in Bethlehem to avoid the coming Messiah (Matthew 2:16-18). Political forces continued to conspire out of fear, until their threat was officially crucified.
The religious powers were offended by him. Jesus, their prophesied Son of God, not only challenged each of them, but he lived out the righteousness that they had failed to perfect. His God-shaped confidence and willingness to humbly love sinners and do life with them, offended the religious elite greatly. The power that was released through Christ offended them so much that they even accused him of being demon possessed (Matthew 12:23-25).
The “poor in spirit” and those who “hungered and thirsted for righteousness” (Matt 5:3&6) were excited because of him. Jesus, their prophesied Savior, not only loved each person he interacted with, but he called them into their rightful identity in God. He spoke loving words to people who had been abused by the political and religious spirit and His power changed their lives. As Christ healed people, and released them from torment, the public could only respond with excitement as his power proved him to be the real deal. It was his power that caused crowds to rush after him. In fact, Jesus wasn’t unaware of the necessity of his powerful acts. In John 14:11 he even states as his own apologist, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”
If Jesus saw the importance of powerful works, then shouldn’t we? If Jesus’ evangelistic method for advancing the kingdom was through power, then why should we look to any other model to follow? We shouldn’t.
So often we may think, “well that was JESUS, I can’t be expected to do that stuff” and we allow that lie to discredit us before we even try anything. However, this is backwards thinking when we remember that Jesus was the same one who commanded us to do the same things he did. To make matters more complicated and unbelievable, he promised that we would do even “greater things” than He did (John 14:12). Wow.
It doesn’t stop there. We have scriptural evidence showing that this mandate is possible to fulfill as mere mortals. The book of Acts shows us that the disciples took this teaching literally and they too, once baptized in the Holy Spirit, performed works in power as they lived their lives as Christians.
This is the reason Paul wrote, “my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). I just love that verse. It is a constant reminder for how ministry should look. As the Body of Christ, we must represent Him with excellence. Too often we have turned the faith of “The Way” into a religious constitution that relies far too much on the abilities of man. Instead, we should rely solely on the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. A.W. Tozer where he said,
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
Society has grown frustrated and annoyed by fakeness and we are in a place of craving authenticity. We are created for experience and each of us desires to see power illustrated in something true. We want to encounter something authentic. I believe that the world wants to see the risen Christ lived out in his people. Within all of man’s desires for truth, progress, beauty, goodness, love, and change, the true fulfilment is realized only in the Holy Spirit’s power.
I am hungry to see the authentic Gospel of the Kingdom in full effect. I will not settle for a comfortable life. In response to a dying, lonely, and confused world, we must allow the power of God to transform us, and we must then demonstrate that same power. We must always remember that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead now lives in us (Romans 8:11). We must love the world relentlessly and reveal the Father, just as Jesus did.