We were moving from one farm house to another, with the help of friends. I hurried to connect the kitchen stove so my wife could bake a pizza for our helpers. This was in the day when kitchen stoves did not plug into the wall, but the wires from the stove had to be individually connected to the wires coming up through the floor. I tried the top burners and they turned red, then I turned on the oven and the element glowed red. The pizza went into the oven and we sat down to visit while we waited.
And waited. Finally we sensed something might not be quite right. This was also long before the day of digital oven temperature readouts, but we figured out that the oven wasn’t getting as hot as it should. I was forced to confess that I really didn’t know what I was doing, so probably the oven only had 110 volt power, not 220. We pulled the stove out, someone who knew a little more about these things connected the wires properly and the pizza finally got cooked. I don’t remember how it turned out, but it probably wasn’t the best pizza my wife ever made, due to the long preheat session.
When a serviceman is called out to fix a piece of electrical equipment that isn’t working, in a home, an office or other commercial location, the first thing he does is check to see if it is plugged in. If it is plugged in, the second thing he does is check whether there is electricity coming to the receptacle. It is amazing how often something can be fixed by plugging it in or flipping the breaker back on.
There is much boasting today in Christian circles of powerful presentations of the gospel, by music, audio visual presentations and powerful preaching. Some speak of a powerful moving of the spirit, healing, raising of the dead and other manifestations. Yet in these same circles the rate of pornography use, marital breakdown, financial irresponsibility and outright dishonesty are little different than among those who make no profession of faith. Where is the power? Are they really connected to the source of power?
I believe some of them have that connection, but is the power being transmitted to all those who fill the pews? Many of them go home with a warm fuzzy feeling about the gospel service they have attended; however Revelation 3:16 has bad news for anyone who thinks a lukewarm fuzzy feeling is enough to transform a worldling into a child of God.
When the power of God first touches our lives, it is likely to give us an unpleasant jolt. We cannot connect to the source of spiritual power without first seeing how sinful we are and repenting of that sin. When the Holy Spirit flows into our lives, He gives us power to overcome sin. We are still sinners by nature and we can expect occasional sparks and power interruptions due to slips and stumbles on our part. Yet the power is there to get back up and resume our walk with God, living through His power, not our own.
Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the effects of being connected to this spiritual power — the fruit of the Spirit is (with explanations from Matthew Henry’s Commentary):
love (to God especially and to one another for His sake)
joy (cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, a constant delight in God)
peace (with God and conscience, a peaceableness of temper and behaviour toward others)
longsuffering (patience to defer anger and a contentedness to bear injuries)
gentleness (a sweetness of temper that disposes us to be affable and courteous, easy to be entreated when any have wronged us)
goodness (kindness, which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity)
faith (fidelity, justice and honesty in what we profess and promise to others)
meekness (wherewith to govern our passions, so as not to be easily provoked, and when we are so, to be easily pacified)
temperance (in food and drink, and other enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them).
This is the power that needs to be evident in Christian worship services, and in the daily lives of believers. There is no excuse for boasting in this, as the power is not man-made. Where these qualities are lacking, it is appropriate to question whether there is truly a live connection to the Holy Spirit, the source of power.