I was thinking the other day about this scenario: What if you had never met any Christians, and had never attended a Christian church? Let’s say you are Chinese and all you have is a tattered copy of the Bible.
You get to the New Testament, and at John’s Gospel, especially chapters 14 and 16, you read Jesus’ promise he is sending a different aspect of God – a God who lives in you, a God within you who delivers a new power to you. Jesus says this new “power” will never leave you. You continue reading through Acts, watching as this promise of Holy Spirit power manifests itself in the Apostles’ lives.
“Wow!” you think to yourself, “This world would be wondrous.”
As you read the book of Acts you see Peter and the disciples preaching boldly in the face of death, and even speaking foreign languages they’ve never known before. Even the earth responds: buildings rumble and jails crumble. The apostles heal the sick and perform other miracles. Ananias and Sapphira are drop dead because they “lied to the Holy Spirit.”
You cannot help but think, “I don’t really understand this Holy Spirit God, but this power must be something to behold!”
After a time, as a born and bred Chinese national, eager to see for yourself this new power in action, you have the opportunity to visit America, and for the first time you have the opportunity to meet these Christians about whom you’ve been reading. “What will they be like?” you think to yourself. “Will they be super-humans? Spiritual giants? Will they stand out in every crowd, shining like the sun?”
Of course they will. That’s the promise. It is right there in Acts. You’ve been reading about this incredible transformation throughout the New Testament. Jesus promised it; Jesus guaranteed it. You may not know a lot about the Bible on the whole, but one thing you do know: if Jesus promised it, it has to be true.
This incredible power afforded through salvation happened to everyone – everyone who places their saving trust in Jesus.
“This is going to be great!” you exclaim. You have lived among ordinary people all your life. You’ve witnessed first-hand their mediocre lives. You’ve seen the vast majority of your friends just getting through the day, coping with their ups and downs as best they can manage. They have no Holy Spirit, so they have no power.
You know that they know there is something missing. They just don’t know what the missing link is. But now, after reading about this Holy Spirit, you do.
Or at least you think you do.
You plan your trip to arrive in the American South, because you have been told it is, the buckle of the Bible Belt. As you arrive you are bursting with excitement to see these Holy Spirit-powered Christians. What will their Christian church services be like? Surely they will be filled with joy and thanksgiving, practically overflowing with enthusiasm and gratitude. Will the roof rumble off the church building as it did in Acts?
No doubt these Christians will radiate love, joy, peace, and patience. Their unity and community will be profound and heartfelt. They will have compassion, kindness and humility. As Jesus said, they will be like fountains of living water overflowing into the lives of everyone, with energy, clarity and creativity.
No mediocre lives for them, that is one thing for sure. Obviously they would not be like everyone else, caught up in a rat-race of busyness and distraction. They will not carry grudges; they will not harbor resentment. How refreshing it would be be to witness lives lived with the certainty that the world around them is a God-powered, God-saturated world.
The big day comes and as you walk down Main Street you eagerly look around for the Christians. But where are they? Besides some racial differences, no one you see seems any different from anyone else. As your desperation grows, you seek out the churches in the area. “Of course this is where I’ll see these spiritual giants,” you assure yourself. But after attending a few church services around the community you are left wondering, “What was that all about? Nothing happened? Where are these Christians who are filled with this wondrous Holy Spirit power?”
Eventually you sit down and speak with someone who assures you, “Listen, I’ve been a Christian all my life, and that Holy Spirit stuff you’re looking for, well, that only happens with those weird people out in the country in those crazy churches. Normal people don’t act like that. Being a Christian is about doing good, and being good, and being a good member of the community. Nobody expects, that kind of unpredictable power. I doubt anyone really even wants it. Things might get out of hand.”
“But what about Jesus’ promise, that ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you?’” you stammer, dazed and confused. “Oh that,” he stiffens, “that was for back then. Nowadays we just do the best we can. Nobody expects to see miracles, child. No need to get all worked up. Just stay with us a while and you’ll settle down and get used to the real world of religion. It’s comfortable. It’s practical. You’ll get used to it.”
The Missing Link
As we begin this journey together, to better understand the Holy Spirit, my question to you is… have you?
What I hope you will allow me to do is to show you how we grew from our former days of such ignorance and self-absorption, to living with the incredible power of the Holy Spirit. Because I fear this power that is available to all of us, available to you, is already being overlooked. Yes, overlooked and ignored, and therefore missed completely.
The Holy Spirit is in fact the missing link. He is what you are missing. No, actually he is who you are missing. Please do not miss this: the link between God the Father, Jesus the Son and you, is the Holy Spirit.
But is he your missing link?
If this ignorance of the Holy Spirit continues I can only imagine one day a whole world of Christians who know nothing of the power that is within them. They will know nothing of the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, and the confidence Jesus lived with himself. The love, the joy, the peace, the patience, and the confidence he gifted to us through his Spirit.
This simply cannot be allowed to happen. It would be tragic.
Jesus told us one day, “I have come so you may have life, and have it to the full.” Listen closely as I share with you my journey, our journey, your journey, from having no understanding at all as to what Jesus meant by “life to the full,” to living this new full life, powered by the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you will learn to live the same.
The Missing Link: Your Journey With Peter From Self Power to Holy Spirit Power, author Sam Hunter reaches out to those who feel they are missing something in their quest to follow Jesus and invites us to take the journey with the Apostle Peter to learn the power of the Holy Spirit Hunter is the host of 721 Live, the radio arm of 721 Ministries.