living a powerful, dependent life


One of the hallmarks of humanity’s progress has been finding and using the power available to us. We harness the strength of muscle, fire, wind, gas, oil, coal, and nuclear energy. Many of us, however, have yet to utilize the spiritual power and strength available to us. All throughout the Bible, where the Holy Spirit is mentioned, there is an emphasis on power.

The hard part for us is that we typically want God’s power to be demonstrated to get us out of the situation. Instead, many times the Holy Spirit gives us power in the situation. 

I don’t like this. I prefer to be taken out of it.

After Jesus rose from the tomb, he met with the disciples. As he was eating one day, he instructed them:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 1:4-5]

Immediately, the disciples inquire: is this the time you’re going to restore the kingdom of Israel? In other words, are you going to get us out of the oppressive situation we are in?

Jesus says, it’s not for you to know the timing of all that. Here’s what you do need to know: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]

We can do nothing to reach the world without the Holy Spirit. We cannot show love, compassion, and care without the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them to wait. Stay together and wait until you receive the Spirit. Once they received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit led them into deeper caring for the world. The Holy Spirit was not only a bridge between the disciples and Jesus, the Holy Spirit was the bridge to the world.

Paul Miller says Jesus lived the most dependent life a human being ever lived. The Gospel writers testify that Jesus “withdrew to a desolate place to pray” (Luke 5:16). Jesus lived by the power of God through the Holy Spirit that anointed him. Jesus told his disciples, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In these words, Jesus is inviting us to that very same life of dependence on God, and interdependence with the other believers around us. 

We know now this is not just something the Bible talks about. Humans are wired for connection. Human babies cannot develop without close bonds. Neuroscience has proven just how much we need each other. A book I finished recently titled “Burnout” by Nagoski and Nagoski says this: “Self care cannot prevent burnout, care for one another can.” We need each other. Again they say, “We need connection like we need food and water.” We cannot do this alone.

It’s no mistake that Jesus’ instructions to the early church involved connection with God and connection with others. The power of the Holy Spirit came on them from this very place of dependence and interdependence. I wonder, what would happen if we were willing to risk receiving this kind of power in our lives today? Not the power out of the situation, but the power to go through.