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Hallelujah! Or a life of moping?

That helpless feeling

 

Are there days when you feel like everything sucks, the whole world is getting worse, and there isn't much a person like you can do about it?

 

Some people mope their way through life with that attitude. They call it realistic, and they can give lots of evidence to support it. But you don't have to buy it.

 

If you get into the idea of Power Season at all, you gradually realize where and how you fit into God's campaign story, and a fantastic thought dawns on you--God is in the empowerment business! We are not as helpless as we thought.

 

God isn't a rule-maker, piling burdens on us, making us feel inadequate. He isn't a scorekeeper or even a coach. He gets into the game with us by his Spirit, coming inside us, enabling us to play better than we ever could on our own.

Do you know what happens then? We get fired up about the game! We don't even consider moping as an option, let alone a full-time activity. We are too busy shouting "Hallelujah" as we look around and see what God's fiery Spirit is doing through us.

God's power inside us

 

God's fire purifies us, consuming our impurities and cauterizing our wounds, fixing things we could never fix about ourselves. The Spirit's fire ignites our engines, giving us the power we need to make a difference in the world. 

God fires us up because of the goodness of his heart, but he also has a strategic reason for putting fire into us as his campaign team members. To see that reason we have to step back for the big picture of the Messiah and the campaign.

The most important question

God's strategy is to run his public awareness campaign to focus the world's attention on the most important question in the history of the human race: "Is Jesus the real Messiah?"

 

Is Jesus the one person God designated to lead a global campaign to set the world right, fulfilling his ancient promise to bless every man, woman, and child? 

Is Jesus the one who brings the utopian blessings of the future Messianic era into the present?

Does everything that matters revolve around Jesus?

Jesus did not publicly claim he was the Messiah, and he dodged one popular attempt to declare him king (John 6.15). He kept saying, however, that the Messianic kingdom was arriving, and he did not point forward to any other "Messiah" for people to expect.

 

Jesus had the whole Jewish nation hoping he would go public with his Messianic announcement. People believed God had sent him, and they were primed to do anything he told them the instant he gave the word.

The Messianic announcement

With his "Triumphal Entry" (we could call it his "Messianic Entry") into Jerusalem before the Passover Feast, it appeared that Jesus was on the verge of making his long-awaited announcement and taking power. Passover Day would have been the perfect moment for it.

 

Passover commemorated the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The hundreds of thousands of people in the capital for the "Independence Day" (Passover) feast could be mobilized as mobs, and Jesus could be installed by popular acclaim as the Messiah, God's chosen king.

 

The power holders, both Jewish religious leaders and Roman political rulers, obviously could not let that happen. Certain that he was a fake messiah, they arrested him on suspicion that he was plotting to launch a revolution, but they could not come up with any evidence of a conspiracy for that. So they forced him in court to declare or deny his Messiahship. "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?" Jesus answered, "I am." (Mark 14.61-62)

 

In our day of endless court delays and appeals, we can't believe how quickly Jesus's trial and execution went after he said that. He made his Messianic announcement in court sometime in the middle of the night, and by 9AM he was hanging on a cross. He died about 3PM and was buried before sundown. No riot. No funeral procession. No nothing. Just instant paralyzing shock and disbelief.  

It appeared that his enemies outmaneuvered him and destroyed him before he could take power. They dashed all the Messianic hopes he had built up nationwide. His devastated and confused inner circle of followers could not even begin to mount a revolution in his name or in his memory. 

 

Why the power in our lives matters

At that time no one saw that God had set the whole thing up to prove that Jesus is the real Messiah! The proof is double-barreled:

1. God the Father raised Jesus from death, validating him as the real Messiah by spectacularly overturning the court's unjust death sentence and undoing its damage! 

2. Jesus assigned his followers to go global with the news of the resurrection, backed up by the ongoing presence and power of his Holy Spirit


In other words, as Jesus's witnesses, his public awareness campaign team, we are part of the answer to the most important question in the world: "Is Jesus the real Messiah?" We know that he himself is alive, not merely his memory or his teaching.

 

Jesus himself is still here with us, just as he promised (Matthew 28.20). He is just flying under the world's radar. The Spirit of Jesus is like a plane that flies inside of people, undetectable to the most sophisticated radar. The radar says, "What Jesus? I don't see any Jesus. He is not here."

 

But the people with his Spirit know that he is here. How else would we be doing the kinds of things he did? On the other hand, if we are not on fire for the campaign, only sputtering or lukewarm, we undermine the credibility of the campaign message. We are acting like we think Jesus is still dead!

The learning curve

As we burn with the Spirit's fire, we have a lot to learn from the Spirit about the Messianic power of Jesus and the way it works. Without the Spirit, the Jews of Jesus's time on earth figured that the Messiah would lead a military liberation campaign, and many of them rejected Jesus because he didn't. Today people without the Spirit often miss the real Jesus in other ways. Here are two of them:

 

It's not magical

People look for the magical solution--the right ritual, the right formula, the right method--that will get God's power to work every time as requested. Or if it does not work every time, they claim it is no good, unreliable, or arbitrary.

 

Jesus decides on a case-by-case basis when the power works as we request and when it does not seem to. It looks arbitrary because he does not always explain his reasons. His overall strategy appears to be to make the power work in enough cases to convince open-minded people but not enough to compel the skeptics.

 

It seems that Jesus will switch to the strategy of compulsion when he returns in person. Then every knee will bow to him, even the knees of the skeptics. But for the time being, we all still have a free choice about what to do with the convincing but not overwhelming evidence of his power. We may believe or not.

It's not political

In the story of Pentecost in Acts 2, Jesus turned his core group of 120 followers into walking evidence of his power for good. The aim was for the whole world to get the memo that heaven's power is at work on earth just like it was when Jesus was here in person.

 

This isn't political. As Jesus's campaign team, we don't have to govern anything or overpower anybody. Unlike Muhammad, who gave his followers many instructions about how to combine religion and politics, Jesus gave his followers no guidance at all about conquering and governing cities, regions, or countries. Jesus will handle all that personally when he returns to earth as King of kings. He does not delegate it in the meantime.

 

Our role in his campaign is not to grab and leverage as much political power as we can. Our role is to let the Spirit of Jesus empower us to become more than we could ever be on our own. By his Spirit we get to do things that humans can't do, no matter how much political power they may hold.

 

The more we open up to the influence of his Spirit, the better we do our job as evidence that Jesus is still in touch with earth, still "here" on earth through his Spirit. So let's savor the power theme in the biblical story this season, soak up all of it we can, and not be distracted by thinking that political power is the key to everything.

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