The Power of ChristActs 4:4-14
How the Church Works
J. Josh Smith
February 8, 2015
It is possible that every member of the church could be doing ministry and that all the members could be unified in their commitment to fulfill the mission of Christ, and yet nothing actually be done for the kingdom of God. The reason this is possible is because doing kingdom work requires more than busyness and focus; doing kingdom work requires the power of the King. The church will only work when it is empowered by the Spirit of Christ. While a church may stay very busy doing a lot of work without the Spirit, it will only be able to do kingdom work if it is filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power source of every member in the church.
But we know that, right? The truth that the Spirit is our power to fulfill our assignments does not come as news to us. We believe that our people genuinely desire the power of God, but here’s the question we must ask ourselves: Do we want God Himself? Our fear is that we may desire what God is able to do for us more than we actually desire God Himself. Desiring anything (even good things) more than you desire God is idolatry. You see, the power of God is always preceded by the presence of God. In order to be filled with His power, you must first spend time in His presence. The power of God flows out of the presence of God.
There are three things we must understand about God’s presence. First, we were created for the presence of God. We were created to have an intimate relationship with our Maker. Sin, however, strips us of the very thing we were created for: the presence of God. The story of the Bible is the story of God restoring us to enjoy His presence once again.
Second, God is inviting us into His presence. Knowing comes before serving. Being comes before doing. The temptation we face on a daily basis is to skip being with God, enjoying His presence, and pursuing intimacy with Him in order to jump right into doing a bunch of stuff for Him. We do this because the church tends to value people who are busy more than they value people who are intimate with God. We also do this because deep in our hearts we believe that the more we do the more God loves us. We often find our identity in the things we do.
God’s love for us is not conditioned upon our ability to meet some standard. He graciously chooses to love us unconditionally. His approval for us is not dependent upon our ability to perform the assignments He gives us. Rather, He approves of us because we are in Christ. If you are in Christ, there is nothing you can do or not do that will make God love you any more or less. We brought nothing to the table worthy of love when God chose to bring us into a relationship with Himself. He chooses to love us by grace. Our work flows out of our relationship with Him; our work is not the basis of our relationship with Him. We don’t work for His love; we work because of His love. God is inviting us into His presence. The only question is: Will you be too busy serving Him to make time to be with Him?
Finally, everything flows out of His presence. The power, joy, hope, love, courage, patience, etc. you need, all flow out of an intimate relationship with Him. We must have God’s power to fulfill His assignments for us. But God’s power flows out of God’s presence. Our focus should not be God’s power; our focus should be God Himself.
So, how long has it been since you took time simply to enjoy the presence of God? How long has it been since you gave Him space to speak to you? Do you consistently seek to cultivate intimacy with Him? If not, what is keeping you from the presence of the Lord? We want His power; we need His power. The question, however, is what do we want most? If the answer to that question is anything other than God Himself, then there are idols in our life that must come down. Begin this week focusing more attention on being in God’s presence. Trust me, He’ll give you something to do, and when the doing flows out of the being, the doing is much more energizing and effective!
Encouragement, Praise, Prayer, Trust, Worship