Pentecost is all about power, the real strength we need from God’s Spirit to do His will. Any Christian who seeks to extend the rule and reign of God’s Kingdom knows this. Beyond the grace to endure the wear and tear of daily living, we need ‘power from on high’ (LK 24: 49). Such power alerts and poises us to catch the upward wind of His Spirit. Nothing less is needed to take ground for the Kingdom.
I need a Spirited kick to rouse me from routine, the everyday drone that can drown out what God wants. Recently, God goaded me to share a bit of my story with a certain man. Unbeknownst to me, he was a Christian who had just gotten into his first serious ‘gay’ relationship. He did not like what I said but the Spirit wanted him to know something else.
Or the other day, weary from a long day of demands, God called me to visit a neighbor who, recently widowed, was in an unusually dark day of grief. The Spirit of Pentecost alerted me to her need for Real Presence—me, a bearer of God’s living Spirit!
Holy power does not mean much unless we are spiritually surrendered. Only the heart that makes room for His power will be empowered to go the distance. During Lent, I did a study of the seven churches in Revelation. (to download, click here) As I reviewed the Risen Christ’s exhortation to them, I gleaned 3 qualities that invite holy power.
The first is poverty, an apt realization that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Jesus especially empowered the suffering churches, e.g. oppressed Smyrna, now ‘rich in poverty.’ She had been weakened by various afflictions and looked only to the One. On the other hand, Jesus threatened to vomit out the sleek and strong Laodiceans who trusted in their wealth; He also threatened to remove His favor from the pious Ephesians who in their good works no longer relied wholly on Him.
Persecution is the second ‘ground’ for welcoming holy power. Those who live mightily in the light of Resurrection will incur disfavor, no matter how loving they are. American Christians often believe that if they are nice enough, all will be well. So instead of rightfully scandalizing the culture, our Gospel anesthetizes it. The Pergamums married themselves to the power structures of the day which made them strong in numbers but drowsy in real moral influence.
On the other hand, those pummeled by opposing forces in the culture become broken ground for arising as potent witnesses until the end. Such was the case for the Philadelphians who in spite of ‘little strength kept Jesus’ Word and did not deny His Name.’
Purity is the third ‘ground’ for holy power.’ In John the Apostle‘s day, as in ours, spiritual idolatry resulted in sexual immorality. Churches would cozy up to other gods and would serve them by incorporating all manner of sexual perversion. Cheap ‘grace’ covered a multitude of sins, which Jesus promptly exposed to reveal the stench of impurity in the majority of churches, especially the Thyatirans whose compromise ‘misled His servants into sexual immorality.’ Jesus gave them the chance to repent and become chaste in devotion to Himself and His purposes.
Do you want to become the ground for holy power? Rejoice in your poverty and look to Jesus alone as your treasure. Count the murmuring of tongues against you as confirmation. The persecuted are blessed with holy power. Do not mess around with sexual compromise. God does not like it, and He likes even less those who justify such sin on the grounds of ‘grace.’ In all three—the yearning for purity, the affliction of persecution, and the hunger of poverty, we become welcoming ground for Pentecost. Bring it on, Holy God.