Have you noticed that it’s rare to find anything that’s plain old good anymore? If it’s good, why isn’t it better, superior, or excellent?
I stepped into a mattress store with my children the other day. There we were faced with a decision among good, better, best, supreme, or ultimate mattresses. In the lineup I saw, good isn’t good at all – its four steps below ultimate! Our culture does not seriously consider anything today unless it’s extreme in some way or another—exceptionally wonderful, supremely dreadful, or as FedEx puts it, extremely urgent. Nothing mediocre, nothing in the middle will do.
Jesus’ 1st century admonition to receive the Spirit’s power so that we can carry the Good News to the edges of the known world challenges our notions of just getting by with business as usual. We have been taught that to organize ourselves according to a hump-shaped bell curve in which everything clusters around the middle or average. We even called this bell curve a "normal" distribution curve.
It used to be that when test-marketing products, or planning for the success of a new product line, researchers would try to appeal to the center. Their guide was the bell-curve average of a middle ground. Today the “middles” are in trouble, as the middles are dropping out and the ends are getting huge. Nobody wants to be average. To call someone vanilla is now an insult. There is no happy medium anymore. Both ends are now being played against the middle.
- Sales for mid-sized televisions are sagging: huge room-sized TV screens are hot sellers, but they are matched by sales of cell-phones with video-screens.
- Some organizations are getting bigger in size (AOL Time Warner, Citigroup, HP-Compaq) and they are getting smaller (non-employer businesses) in size.
- There is faster income growth at the top and bottom ranges, with slowest income growth at the middle.
Find me a kid that isn’t entranced by extreme sports—extreme mountain biking, extreme skateboarding, extreme wave-boarding, extreme rock-climbing. Nobody wants to do regular anything. Type in "extreme" into Google and get 52,900,000 hits that will take you to extreme networks, extreme weather, extreme coffee, even extreme ironing (ironing shirts out of doors @ www.extremeironing.com).
Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to be regular. Regular disciples would have
- stayed in Jerusalem,
- founded a school,
- studied the words and works of their master,
- screened and admitted only the most promising students.
Jesus commanded his disciples to scatter to the ends of the earth, preaching and teaching the good news, healing the sick, casting out demons, witnessing to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ promised that they would receive power in waiting for the Spirit. Jesus’ command called his disciples to be witnesses, not students, not caretakers, not sages. The disciples saw the miracle of the resurrection, the glory of the ascension, and they knew the significance of those acts. Their witness was to nothing less than the salvation of the world.
Introduction to the Holy Spirit: The third person of the Christian Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the sanctifier, who leads and guides the church. The Holy Spirit is frequently presented in Scripture through symbols.
I. Who Is Holy Spirit
- Jesus tells us to expect the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:9).
- Jesus promises, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26).
- The Spirit teaches us about Jesus.
"Every time we say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it." (J. B. Phillips, Leadership-Vol. 2, #1).
The sacrifice Jesus made, the redemption Jesus offered, was for all creation. Thus it was to all creation that the good news had to be carried. Jesus had made the extreme sacrifice. Jesus went to the edge of death and darkness. Now it was time for his disciples to follow him out to the edges of creation, announcing his gift of salvation to all.
II. The persons of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are entwined.
- The physical body of Jesus never left Palestine.
- The Spirit of Christ has covered the world by the Spirit’s power.
If you have the Spirit without the Word, you blow up.
If you have the Word without the Spirit, you dry up.
If you have both the Word and the Spirit, you grow up.
(Don Lyon, Leadership-Vol. 5, #1).
The generations of witnesses now extends from Jesus’ twelve disciples to the 1.7 billion disciples that populate the world today. And each one of us is being called grow-up by going to the ends of the earth.
- FIRE: The Purifying Power of the Spirit for Focus
- OIL: The Comforting Power of the Spirit for Support
- WATER: The Life-Giving Power of the Spirit for Strength
- WIND: The Creative Power of the Spirit for Service
- DOVE: The Suffering Power of the Spirit for Mission
Will you join me in prayer and preparation to receive POWER!
Power (dunamis – G1411) in Strong’s Concordance (see the evidence of God’s power in the disciples in Acts 2:22, 3:12, 4:7, 4:33, 6:8, 8:10, 8:13, 19:11).