But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. (Acts 1:8, NLT)
Power. Power. Power! There are Christians who regard the pursuit of spiritual power as a sign of immaturity, and they are suspicious of all claims of spiritual manifestations. This attitude does not come from Jesus Christ, but from unbelief, human tradition, and false humility. Jesus taught his disciples to be complete followers of him. He taught them about grace, prayer, service, the church, and many other things. But more than anyone in the Bible, he repeatedly urged upon them the teachings of miracle faith and spiritual power.
His teachings in this area are explicit and matter-of-fact. He said that if they had faith, they could command a tree or even a mountain to be removed. When a diseased woman touched him in faith, he said that power went out of him. Power. He sent the disciples to preach, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to raise the dead. He rebuked Peter for his lack of faith because he failed to walk on water. He rebuked the disciples because they thought he worried about bread when he could make bread from bread, that is, they ought to have assumed that he could do it again.
Then he told his disciples that they would be endued with power from heaven, and that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Power. He talked about it often, and he talked about it last. He said, “Power is coming. Wait for it. Do not concern yourself with the political situation, or whether this or that will happen, or when it will happen. God will do what he wishes in his time. But listen, power is coming. You will need it. This is going to be great! The Holy Spirit is coming to you, and when he arrives, you will receive power. Power!”
Power is not evil. It is a good thing. It is an attribute of God. He has more of it than anyone else. In fact, he has all of it. He made man to be his image, to reflect his attributes. Then, by God’s design, man fell into sin, so that not only did he become unable to properly reflect God’s glory, but he became brutish in his intellect and demonic in his character, although he was still made in the image of God, so that he remained human. In his time, God commanded his light to shine in his chosen ones through Jesus Christ, and the divine image has been restored in them.
God has called us to reflect his multifaceted glory to the world, but some Christians concern themselves with only a few aspects of his total image. Some stress that the Christian faith must exalt truth, and this means to affirm and defend sound doctrine. What a marvelous insight this is. The Christian faith cannot be defined and known without sound doctrine. But sound doctrine commands us to perform good works. It teaches us that true religion cares for orphans and widows, and those who cannot care for themselves. To neglect this aspect of the gospel is to neglect this aspect of Christ. It is to have a narrow view of Christ, or to exhibit an inadequate image of his glory.
What about the power of Jesus Christ? He often talked about it. He sent his disciples out with power, so that even the demons scattered when they heard that these people marched in his name. He said that he would ascend to his Father’s side, but his people would continue in power. “Power!” he said. Why are people suspicious of power? It is not because they are humble, but because they are full of themselves. This matter of going forth with the power of the Spirit is not about you. It is about reflecting the full glory of Christ, and presenting the image of Christ to the world in every generation.
The Bible calls Christ the light of the world, and we tell people that Christ is the light of the world. But he said that his followers are also the light of the world. Because we are his disciples, we are to become like him, and show the world what he is like. The Bible talks about the humility of Christ. The truth of his humility is established forever even if we fail to reflect his humility. But we are indeed called to do it. The Bible talks about the sacrifice of Christ, a sacrifice that cannot be duplicated in its essence and extent by his followers. Still, we are to follow his example and display a likeness of his sacrifice.
What about the power of Jesus Christ? He told his people to go forth in power. It is not about status, or excitement, or personal glory – why are these things on your mind? He sent his Spirit so that we may be effective witnesses of the truth about him, and to be full reflections of his person. We are his disciples – his students, his apprentices – and we are to reflect his wisdom, his zeal, his humility, his sacrifice, and his power.
Therefore, as we embody the virtue of Jesus Christ, we shall also embody the power of Christ. Let us think more about it, talk more about it, and let us pray that as Christ shows forth his wisdom, compassion, and other qualities through us, he will also manifest his power through us, so that we may be his true disciples, and become complete witnesses and reflections of his glory.