But you will receive power...
Acts 1:8 - but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...
A pastor friend of mine asked me to write a little about this verse and what it meant to me. Since I tend to be more of an analytical thinker, I broke down the verse and looked at the surrounding context. Leading up to this statement, Jesus was getting ready to leave and the people were asking him if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. The Jews were expecting a political messiah to conquer their enemies and establish a kingdom. They were expecting the messiah to use his power to establish his kingdom. What Jesus told them was something else entirely.
Jesus told them that instead of him using his power to establish his kingdom, they were about to receive that power to establish the kingdom of God instead. The word “power” in the original language is the same word we get the word “dynamite” from. This describes more than authority. It describes power that affects things.
So, what did this statement mean when Jesus said it? What does it mean to us? What does it mean to me, personally? To me, it means that Holy Spirit gave us the ability to affect change around us. When the Holy Spirit came, the people in the upper room were suddenly imbued with power they had never experienced. Peter was able to speak and have people with many different languages all understand him at once. 3000 people were saved during that first sermon...talk about affecting change!
People’s bodies were changed as they were miraculously healed. People’s destinations were changed from hell to heaven. Families were changed, lives were restored, and the kingdom of God was established and has grown all from the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus died, the disciples had run away and hidden in fear. After the Holy Spirit came, those same people were willing to die for the gospel. They had been imbued with power that was stronger than their fears and it had affected change in them.
Personally, this verse has always reminded me that no matter what I see in front of me, I have been given the power to affect change in it. Like taking dynamite to a road block, I have the power inside of me to blast through any obstacle the enemy puts in my way. When I am feeling depressed, I remember that I have the power to overcome it. When I have feelings of hopelessness about a situation I’m in, I remember I’ve been given the power to change the situation. When I’m sick, I know I have power to overcome it. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and I know that the Holy Spirit is the way Christ gives me the power to do those things.
Whether that means spontaneously preaching a sermon on a Sunday when the preacher doesn’t show up, finding peace and joy in even the darkest of situations, or simply knowing what to say to a hurting friend in his moment of need, the Holy Spirit causes change through me and that change is for the purpose of establishing and growing the kingdom of God. The very same kingdom the Jews were asking Jesus about 2000 years ago is alive in us because the power of the Holy Spirit.