I have heard it said multiple times in response to our call to surrender; “Well, God doesn’t tell us to just be a doormat…” According to the words of Jesus… the fully God/fully man fulfillment of scripture… I think He might…
The main point from Sunday’s sermon was that “participating in the inbreaking hope of the New Creation happens only through the work of the Holy Spirit.”
Throughout this series we have been challenged to look at our role as the church as the active witness of the redemptive mission of Jesus that is being accomplished here and now.
The truth is that we are only empowered to be this witness, to produce fruit in our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The great news is that this power is the same as the power that was at work in the ministry of Jesus Himself and is the power that was used in His resurrection.
But… we are not Jesus (just in case anyone didn’t know this…) As we saw in our message on worship, Jesus is King. Jesus is at the center of our worship. Jesus is the One on the throne. This means that Jesus’ relationship with this power is different than our relationship with power. Simply put; we are given power to reveal Christ, not be Christ.
That seems obviously, but there are subtle ways that our understanding of power gets corrupted. In fact, in N.T Wright’s book Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, he points out “power” as one of these signposts that are meant to point to God’s loving will but are instead broken by our corruption.
Jesus makes it crystal clear what our relationship with power is to look like. Surrender. “The last shall be first…” “deny yourselves and take up your cross…” “whoever loses their life will save it…”just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We aren’t competing for power in the Kingdom of God. We are delegated power to serve and care for God’s Creation, not abuse it.
The reason “power” is listed as one of these broken signposts is because we mistake power as something we can gain or need to preserve. Like in the garden, we become so tempted by the idea of control that we worship the power that comes from God instead of worshipping the God who lovingly gifts us power through His Spirit.
Like every good gift, power is something we are to steward. And, we only have the capacity to receive this power from the Holy Spirit if we do as Jesus instructs, surrender. Empty ourselves of ourselves so we can be filled. Not just filled with the “power” of the Spirit, but the Spirit Itself. That is what it means to be filled with the Spirit. It’s not to gain God-like power or status. It is to be empowered by God to surrender to His will of selfless love.
As we move into our next series, “One Another”, we will take a closer look at this relationship between living surrendered and Spirit-filled, and how that impacts every relationship in our lives.