Romans 8:14-15 NIV
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
I’ve been fascinated over the last few decades with how often “power” is viewed as the big idea behind spiritual gifts—rather than the more foundational, bigger idea of “love.” The Holy Spirit of God is first about the work of loving a soul to awakening; the expressions of spiritual power that flow from that love and compassion are the overflow of the love that moves the Father in heaven.
So why do we fixate primarily on power when we talk about the Spirit? Humans can get overly excited about spectacles and miracles, like those who asked Jesus for signs, forgetting what is motivating that wonder and giving it meaning. God’s power is loving power. Anything that flows from God’s hand to us is touched and shaped by his love.
In this passage we see that the Father’s love is always making his power benevolent—the Spirit sets us free (2 Cor. 3:17) and brings us deeper into love. Sabbath, for example, is all about deepening in love as we refuse to be a slave to work and re-orient our identity once again to simply being a beloved child of our Abba in Heaven. We are made for the Father’s perfect love, no longer to be subject to the bonds of spiritual, psychological, or emotional slavery (Gal. 5:1).
As someone who has spent the last decades of my life in church contexts that embrace the gifts the Holy Spirit gives, from what we might call natural gifts (teaching, administration) all the way to the momentary or ongoing charisms (healing and prophecy), I have at times seen a fixation on an experience of power and spectacle as the goal. When a limb is healed right there on the spot, it’s exciting! When blindness is healed and a person sees for the first time in years, it’s wonderful!
But the healing is not the point of what is happening in that moment. It never is. The love of God for the person is the most amazing thing happening in that moment. When someone’s eyes light up with the love of God, expressed in quiet tears or loud rejoicing at what God has done, I’m pretty sure the angels in heaven are dancing—whether a “miracle” occurs or not!
I am so grateful for those who mentored me in praying for the sick and those in need. Those men and women would always remind me that the very least a person should leave with after a time of me praying for them is a deeper experience of the love of God. When a person feels that Jesus sees them, and knows them, it can trigger a deep inner healing to which even a physical healing can seem secondary. God’s love brings an eternal miracle of union with the person. That is always the Father’s goal.
Keeping the Father’s love as the goal of every time of praying for someone, we won’t get hung up on whether our prayers for them “worked” or not. We will stay focused on God’s love for the person as we pray. That focus will cause us to be sensitive in our praying, rather than distracted by a fix-it mentality, or overly dramatic trying to work up emotion. That same focus will also help us keep our distance from cynicism when someone is not healed through our participation with the Father in praying for them.
Becoming like a child to our Abba God is a prerequisite for Kingdom flourishing. The Holy Spirit releases us from fear into loving dependence on our Creator. Whether we are the one praying for someone, or the one being prayed for, a continual reminder that we are loved by God truly casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
A loved person is a force to be reckoned with; just like Jesus before us.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I want to participate in others experiencing the love of the Father through whatever gifts of the Spirit flow through me. Come, Holy Spirit, use me in my natural gifts and in more momentary or ongoing gifts, to participate with in you awakening hearts to your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Is there someone you could pray for this week who is in need of an experience of the Father’s love? What would happen if you asked if you could pray for them, and you started off praying for the Father’s love to fill them?
For the awakening,