Where ever we turn in our culture we are encouraged to be empowered for all sorts of things. If the advertising industry is to believed then all sorts of products will empower us. The Politicians make similar promises and sadly so does the church. We are encouraged to go to conferences so that we will receive an impartation of power. surely this can’t be wrong after all Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had been endued with power, didn’t he?
The whole thing of power can be something which can lead us in the wrong direction, so often we want power so that we can be seen as influential and spiritual people. If we seek power very often we find ourselves trying to manipulate circumstances so that we can be seen as powerful people. We seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we can be powerful people, we assure ourselves that the world needs people moving in power. But this concentration on power can have a corrupting influence upon us because we lost sight of why God wants to empower his people.
The reason the Lord Jesus wanted to empower his disciples is quite clear they were empowered for mission and that mission would glorify Jesus. They did not seek power so that they would look good but so that Jesus would be honoured. Jesus modeled what he expected from his disciples as Paul shows us in Philippians chapter 2,
Think this in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider being equal with God something to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself
by* taking the form of a slave,
by* becoming in the likeness of people.
And being found in appearance like a man,
8 he humbled himself
by* becoming obedient to the point of death,
that is, death on a cross.
9 Therefore also God exalted him
and graciously granted him the name above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
These verse demonstrate the radical power of self giving love, Jesus gave up his place in heaven to become a servant and we are called to imitate Christ in this. What we need then is a concentration on love, love for God and each other. When we look at the ministry of the Lord Jesus what do we admire about him? surely it his love towards the needy, he uses his power to demonstrate his love. When we look at the early church we see the same thing time and time again God’s power is used to express God’s love. If we were to be filled with love we would become powerful people because genuine love is powerful. Read 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14, and what you see demonstrated here is that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be used in the context of showing love (The same is true of Romans 12). The greatest impact is made by those who love the most because they seek the good of the other person. Bernard of Clairvaux in his magnificent work on the love of God causes the reader to stop and worship his great God, in more recent history we can think of William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect, Mother Teresa,Martin Luther-King and others who have shown the world that God is a God of love.
If we then seek to obey the two greatest commandments to love God and our neighbour, we will need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit for worship and service. But we will not be seeking the good our ends but rather seeking the kingdom of God. When we become the loving people God wants us to be, we will be channels of blessing to others. When we are serving the Lord and expressing his love to a lost and broken world, we will find that we are truly fulfilled.
Therefore we need to ask God to make us the loving people that he desires us to be, the path of love is not an easy path to walk on but it is the best one.