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September 19, 2012

Power of the Holy Spirit and the Community of Believers


Bernard Cook asks the question “What’s going on? How is the power of God influencing human life today?” (Cooke, 9) Isn’t this the question the world is asking? Jesus Christ is the answer proclaimed to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately the church too often defines power in the same forms as Cook describes.  It’s not uncommon for churches to use the power of fear and persuasion, seek after political power, or rely of the power of wealth. These are not the power structures that will reveal the answer to the world.


Cook wisely looks to the life of Jesus to see the proper manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus we see the Holy Spirit manifested as a servant (Cooke, 22). It was in Jesus acceptance of the servant role that God’s power of salvation was extended to man. The self-sacrificing power to serve is truly the power of the Holy Spirit that should mark the followers of Jesus today. On the day of Pentecost, the people of Jerusalem certainly asked “What’s going on?” or “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12), and the Holy Spirit power in the lives of the early believers quickly illuminated the answer.

Dr. Amos Young discusses the Acts ecclesiastical community of believers that gave us a model for this expression of the servant power of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit led model defied the accepted patron-client power structures of their day (Young, 56).  The plan Jesus initiated was the “leveling out” of the class hierarchies to establish a “community of equals” (Young, 57). Those who did not have were able to receive and those who had were able to give. These kinds of ecclesiastical communities “threaten to overthrow the world’s way of doing business altogether” (Young, 56). Similar to Cooks original question, Young asks a critical question “Is the Holy Spirit at work in similar ways today”? He answers that “The church’s present witness to the world is muted because we are dominated by our individualism, materialism, and consumerism rather than captivated by the selflessness of Christ”. Young offers a solution saying “if we fully embrace the power of the Holy Spirit instead, we will cease to compromise the gospel with our self-centeredness and actually embody the good news to the ends of the earth” (Young, 56). The church today desperately needs to take up similar ecclesiastical servant models so that the power of the Holy Spirit will be expressed, Jesus Christ lifted up, and the Father glorified.

Sources:

Cooke, Bernard. Power and the Spirit of God: Toward an Experienced-Based Pneumatology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Young, Amos. Who Is the Holy Spirit: A Walk With the Apostles. Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011.