Plugging in to our power source

You all know what I'm going to write today. You knew it as soon as you saw the subject line. So why are covering it again? Same reason we will continue to re-visit it periodically, again and again, probably until the day we leave this life: We forget. Even though we know that we are powerless to accomplish God's will in our lives without a steady influx of divine guidance, wisdom, and strength, we always tend to be like the three-year-old, brushing away mama's hand, saying "I do it mysef."

That is not necessarily a terrible thing. God made us for work. He made us for creativity. He made us for service. In those things, we reflect our Maker. But when the planning and the doing bleed over into self-reliance, and the outcomes begin to depend on me, I am no longer doing the will of God. I'm doing my own will in the name of God and expecting Him to bless that. When He doesn't, I wonder why I have so little to show for all my effort. I begin to need approval from the people around me and when it isn't as constant or effusive as I hoped, I feel unappreciated. Eventually, that can lead to feelings of disillusionment, bitterness, and burn-out. I can't serve up living water from a dry well.

Turns out, I don't have to. As Stan Chesser reminded us all: I have the Spirit of Christ living inside of me, to reveal, instruct, and empower (listen again on the May 3 edition of When Jesus promises fruitfulness for those who abide (John 15:5-8), and Paul describes what that fruit looks like (Galatians 5:22-25), it is noteworthy how much of the fruit shows up in how we view and treat others. Loving the way Jesus loves. I can't do that by myself. Thank God the fruit isn't mine; it's the fruit of the Spirit!

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text:

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.

But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.

-1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (MSG)

Scott Thompson