Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Experiencing the Power of God

The explosiveness of dynamite should help us grasp the biblical understanding of the power of God’s Spirit. The Greek word for power is, of course, dunamis, from which we get the word dynamite. As the “Power of God.” the Spirit does the unexpected, going wherever the Spirit wills (Jn. 3:8). This is not a form of power that we can control. Think of the hurricane or tornado: both storms have great power that cannot be controlled. Such is the nature of God’s power, not that it is destructive, but that it cannot be tamed by us.

Barbara Brown Taylor picks up the sense of the power of the Spirit’s presence in her reflections on the Pentecost story.

This is the Spirit, who blows and burns, howling down the chimney and turning all the lawn furniture upside down. Ask Job about the whirlwind, or Ezekiel about the chariot of fire. Ask anyone who was in that room on Pentecost what it was like to be caught up in the Spirit, and whether it is something they would like to happen every Sunday afternoon.
[Barbara Brown Taylor, Bread of Angels, (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1997), 67.]

Could we be comfortable with a Pentecost like experience every Sunday? With Taylor, I’m not sure any of us is quite ready for such a demonstration of power. But, Pentecost underlines the biblical picture of the Spirit being that energy of God that cannot be domesticated, possessed, or even harnessed. Yet, the Spirit freely enters the community bringing to it energizing power. We might not be able to harness the power of the Spirit, but the Spirit remains present, infusing our lives with life changing energy. When coupled with the gifts and abilities God provides the people of God, world-changing ministry is truly possible. Thus the church can be a force that brings to the world God’s transforming love through both word and deed.

An excerpt from Gifts of Love (unpublished mss.)

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