This article originally appeared in Pentecost Today Magazine, 2022, Issue 1.
Most of us try to avoid tension. We generally don’t like holding two things at the same time, balancing multiple perspectives, or navigating conflicting ideas. We often think that simplifying things, people, or ideas will make them more understandable, and therefore allow our lives to move forward more peacefully. Sometimes this is a prudent and wise approach, but if we apply this mindset too liberally, we can easily find ourselves avoiding important relationships, opportunities, or in the case of the spiritual life, dynamic power capable of increasing our holiness and fruitfulness in mission.
Two Scriptures come to mind. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) reveal the dynamic between our human weakness and God’s awesome power. On one hand, we have no power, but through the Holy Spirit, the full power of God dwells in us. Too often, we live as though holiness and fruitful mission are completely unattainable to us, or we can do it on our own. Both are false and both reveal where our pride has taken root. Only the humble disciple can assert both “his power is made perfect in my weakness . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10) and “we are more than conquers through him who loved us”(Romans 8:37). Pride tells us that we are too powerless to make the right decisions, avoid sin, or engage in the mission of the Church. Pride tells us that we alone are strong enough to make the right decision, avoid sin, and be the person to convert the unbelievers in our lives. Do you see the tension? Isn’t it beautiful?
It’s beautiful because at the exact center of the tension we find the answer, and of course, his name is Jesus. How freeing to live as his disciple knowing that the sufficient grace, abiding fruits, and manifest power we need are unleashed in the hearts of the faithful. We simply need to believe, respond, and cooperate with the Holy Spirit. We have been equipped for the high call to which we are called. Through our baptism and confirmation, we have been grafted into the body of Christ, the old flesh is gone, our stony hearts are transplanted, and now we are new creations infused with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. The Scriptures are full of stories and nuggets of wisdom revealing the incredible things God can do through those who trust, obey, and love Him.
Every saint we revere, every miracle we witness, and every conversion we celebrate originates from the same power source and we have been given access to this game-changing, all-consuming, never-exhausted relationship with the Spirit. Friends, no more excuses, rebuke your pride, and step into the fullness of the power Jesus has already given you through the indwelling of his Spirit.
You might be saying, “Pete that sounds great, but how?” Let’s not over complicate it. Enter into prayer, acknowledge your weakness, repent of your pride, and then boldly say yes to his power. Give the Holy Spirit permission to invade your thoughts, co-opt your plans, and work through you. Our Good Father lavishly pours out gifts on his children; don’t reject or deny them, but humbly and gratefully receive them. Stop wondering if you’re equipped or empowered and instead believe the words Paul wrote to Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Tm 1:6-7). You have everything you need, just say yes to it, and receive the “more” that you desire!