By the church calendar Easter is past, but we are not yet to “ordinary time.” We wait for one more thing. I have been writing on Sundays about waiting for the Holy Spirit and the amazing power He gives us access to. And now as the waiting continues I find that I must sound a warning.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” While this sentence is most widely associated with Spider-Man, turns out it is far older. Regardless of where it comes from it is so, so true. History is replete with abuses of power claimed in the name of the Holy Spirit.
When I was in high school a preacher came to town and claimed Holy Spirit power. He had everyone speaking in tongues at the drop of a hat, and no one going to the doctor because the Holy Spirit was going to handle it, never acknowledging that the Holy Spirit might in fact live in the doctors. I had friends die. I saw children born severely disabled that might otherwise have been quite healthy. I have been deeply and personally touched by people abusing the apparent power of the Holy Spirit.
The power we are granted by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not a toy, nor is it a super-power.
The Apostle Paul wrote what amounts to a “magnum opus” about the power granted us by the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 12-14. These chapters should be read as a warning. The power of the Spirit is to be used for the edification of the whole Body of Christ and it is to be used in love. It is so tempting to do otherwise, to use this power for our own aggrandizement. We crave the spectacular and are tempted to be spectacular simply because it is somehow “cool.”
But we must take our example from Christ who chose to die rather than spectacularly bring Himself down from the cross. We must learn from Elijah’s confrontation with God at Horeb. God came not in the wind, fire or earthquake, but with a still small voice. God’s power, granted to us by the Holy Spirit, is to be used humbly, quietly and only for the good of others.
We must strive to be worthy of the power we are granted.