He came to earth as a baby, knowing that someday he would be the savior of the world. His “earthly” parents took him to a small little town where he was raised in obscurity, almost secretive, growing stronger everyday and waiting for the right time to reveal his strength and special power to the world. Finally, the day came when as a young man, having grown strong and having learned about who he was and where he came from, he was ready and the world was ready for him. He stepped out onto the stage, ripped open his shirt and exposed a large red “S” on his chest. His name is Superman. That is who you thought I was talking about isn’t it?
I wonder what it was like to be the young Superman? Knowing you are called to a mission but not sure of the power within you to pull it off. Waiting for the strength to show up and the muscle to mature. Sitting on the sidelines while the world wondered if you were worth the fuss.
In Acts 19 there is another group of guys that have waited. They were baptized by John the Baptist maybe 25 years earlier and now they wait. They have a message and a mission but no muscle. They know they were called for a purpose but they lack the power. So the Apostle Paul comes to them and asks, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” They are disciples (the NIV says so), they have bought into the story of Jesus, but there is nothing in their life to reflect the passionate, purposeful, powerful, ABUNDANT life that Jesus promised. Sound familiar?
For many of us we know Jesus as the forgiver of our sins and the saver of our souls. Thanks to Him we are going to heaven and not headed to the other place, (H E double hockey sticks). We have fire insurance and that’s about all. Where is the power? Where is the supernatural, out of this world, change the planet strength that we thought we’d have when we went to an altar at church camp or were baptized as young adults? Where is the ABUNDANT life? We have waited, wondering, weak and worrying. Is this as good as it gets?
Paul comes to the men at Ephesus and asks, “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?” That question brings up a problem for me. Aren’t Jesus and the Holy Spirit one in the same? Can you get Christ and not get the Spirit? I don’t think so. Maybe that’s why Paul writes to them years later and reminds them that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6) So, rather than get all theological about this let’s just say that if you have Jesus in your heart you’ve got the Holy Spirit in you as well. That must mean that there is a way of living that fails to recognize and exemplify the power of God in the life of the believer. Something about these guys made Paul ask the question. “What’s the deal? You’ve been hanging around 25 years and I don’t see much going on? Did you receive the Spirit?” The rest of the story is pretty cool. He tells them about the Holy Spirit, baptizes them in the name of Jesus, lays his hands on them and they have a praise Jesus meeting to beat the band.
Now here is what I make up about that. We get two things when we get Jesus. (Well, we get a lot of things; eternal life, peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable…) But two things really stand out. We get His Presence. All of the presence of God is ours. Not just a part, not just an itsy bitsy slice, all of God is in Jesus and He is in us. Colossians 1:19 says “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him.” And all of that fullness dwells in us. Listen young Superman, you are not in this thing alone. He is with you. Every trial you face, every struggle you have, every step of the way the Creator of the Universe is right there inside you and He promises to “Never leave you or forsake you.” I can handle that!
The second thing we get is His Power. We are not some mealy mouthed, mamby pamby, hope we can make it another day kind of followers. When you invited Christ into your life He came with great POWER. Go get in front of the mirror right now. Unbutton your shirt and look at that t-shirt. (Okay, check that. I remember what my skinny chest and sloppy belly looked like in the mirror this morning.) Maybe we should just imagine the blue tights and the bold, red S on our chests. We are supermen and superwomen, filled with the presence and power of God and able to do more than we think or can imagine. Even Jesus said to us “Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have done. He will do greater things than these.” (John 14:12) Are you trying to reach your friends for Jesus? Are you wanting God to work in your marriage? Are you looking at a ministry and wishing you could tackle it? YOU HAVE GOT THE POWER IN YOU. All you have to do is start operating In the Name of Jesus.
Next week we’ll talk more about what that looks like. For today the lesson is this. You can do anything because Jesus Christ lives in you and gives you strength. (That would make a pretty good Bible verse.) Maybe you have been waiting around for a long time for God to come and make you strong. Maybe you have been on the sidelines hoping someday He would give you something special. He already did. It’s a done deal. The power of His presence is in you now. You are a world changer. You are a hero. You are Supersomebody and He is ready to do a mighty work in you. That fires me up!
One final note. Acts 19:7 says there were 12 men. After 25 years only 12 men. Waiting around, hoping for some power, not accomplishing much. A few years later Paul writes to the Ephesians “Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” (1:15-16) There are so many there that Paul doesn’t even know them. The church at Ephesus is a power-house for evangelizing the Gentiles. They have taken off. When the power comes stuff happens. So you, this week, slip into a phone booth somewhere, rip open your shirt and begin to serve God with POWER. You will be amazed at what He starts doing through you.