The following is an article I wrote for the Randolph Church of Christ where I serve as a Preacher and Minister. I have changed a couple of things to be more palpable for this blog but the content of what I wrote is the same.
In the Wednesday evening small church group we have started reading through the book of Acts. The goal is to take notice of how the Holy Spirit empowers the church to live as witnesses of Jesus (cf. Acts 1.8).
What does it look like for a church to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to its own human power? That’s a great question without an easy answer. One way to answer the question is to list things we see the church in Acts doing (e.g., prayer, preaching, ministry, etc…). The problem is that churches can easily do such things without the power of the Spirit which is not only unbiblical but also spiritually unhealthy. So we are back to the same question…what does it look like for a church to live by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Growing up, my father owned his own excavation company that contracted both residential and commercial work. One day he received a call to see if he could finish digging a basement for someone who had already began the work himself. As it turned out, the home-owner had spent a year digging a third of his basement by hand with a shovel. With a small backhoe, it took my father about four hours to finish digging the basement.
So here was this man was trying to dig a basement on his own strength when a power greater than himself (a back-hoe) was readily available and could do what no human can do on their own. I believe it is the same with the power of the Holy Spirit. When a church relies on the Holy Spirit it discovers that it is capable of doing far more than it could ask or imagine, which was part of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (cf. Eph 3.20).
But here is the caveat. When reading through the book of Acts, the empowerment of the church by Holy Spirit is accepted or rejected by the church. The church can either be led by the Spirit or deny the Spirit and when the former happens, things can become a bit unpredictable and messy to say the least. If you are wired like me, that is the scary part of seeking and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.