Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Would They Describe You As Powerful?

What is an authentic Christian? What do they look like? How do they act? How do they talk? What do they do? If you ask the same question about an American to various people of the world you will get some specific responses that reveal a generalization about Americans. Even though they are a diverse people they are thought of in a specific way, related to appearance, action, speech. This is also true about Canadians, and no, we don't all say "eh", live in igloos and ride polar bears to work. This generalization can be true of any nation as we attempt to define the distinctions of each country. But Christians need to be careful not to allow these generalizations to limit the Spirit's work in us.

Many people will tell you that Christians are suppose to be loving, kind, forgiving, merciful and generous. All great and very necessary things because they come from the character of Father but if we limit ourselves to these things we are missing out on our purpose. Many great leaders, teachers, prophets of the past have taught on these things. Mind you, they did not have the power to transforms hearts of their followers to enable them to have this character, but Jesus was even more than this. Look at one simple verse to understand that Jesus was more than a teacher or a simple prophet:

And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. (Luke 6:19)

"Of course he is powerful, he is the Son of God." Yet he set the advantages of the divinity aside (Philippines 2) so that he could live like us. Power came on him at the baptism as the Spirit entered him. The same Spirit we have been given. Jesus' words:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive. (John 7:37-39) 

Part of the description of a Christian that is sadly missing is "powerful". Jesus describes the Spirit as living water that is suppose to flow from our heart. But we deny this in ourselves, limit ourselves to the expectation of others and often fall short of what Jesus intended. We even avoid Paul the apostle as he wrote:

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

Paul recognized the difference between his natural condition and that of his spiritual reality. Of his natural condition he wrote:

I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. (v. 3)

It is quite the contrast but Paul did not rely on his flesh nor did he limit Jesus to it. He knew the power of the Spirit and he was determined to be submitted so the Spirit would have the freedom to do what was necessary to persuade people of the love and power of Jesus, so that they would be saved.

There is no doubt that love is the greatest of all things but it is not the only thing. In fact, love does not even come from us. Either does any of the character traits of Yahweh. We are incapable of faith or of his love, but he gives us these things to complete us and so we can walk the walk in this dark world. But we are not to limit his work in and through us to these things because he has also given us power through this same Spirit.

It is a real shame to see Christians limit the work of the Spirit in them simply because of the walls they erect from their own prejudices. What is worse, to make themselves feel good about these self inflicted limitations, they mock those who have made the decision not to limit the Spirit. We can try to excuse away the words of Jesus and Paul but it is harder to find excuses for what the Spirit did through them.

The world needs to hear the words because they are the foundation of our faith but they also need a "demonstration of the Spirit and power" so that their faith "should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God". This is important so that people will understand that Jesus has the power to cleanse us of our sins and to raise us at the resurrection. If we do not trust he has this power we will not put our faith in his words. A lot of teachers taught about love but none walked on water, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, feed the multitudes with a small lunch, or raised the dead. None of them sent demons packing or conquered the grave. But Jesus not only did all these, he also said you would too. The question then is: Will you?

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