Saturday, December 6, 2008

Kingdom preachers or power preachers?

"They asked him, 'Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, . . . 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.'" Acts 1:6, 8

The disciples could have made a biblical case for their kingdom scenario. But their question "must have filled Jesus with dismay" (Stott, Acts, page 41). They wanted to regain something they had lost (note "restore"). God's purpose all along and his next step now were both better than they thought. His true kingdom had always been spiritual, and the Holy Spirit was about to come down in unprecedented power.

We long for our kingdoms. We see them in the Bible and tell ourselves they are God's kingdom. But he has a better way -- the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are we smarter than the disciples back then? Shouldn't we bring our enthusiasms under the judgment of "Not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42)? What if we actually got our way?

For example, some of us would like to be the next John Piper or Tim Keller or Mark Driscoll or whoever -- a very personal kingdom dream -- the way I've always wanted to be the next Billy Graham. But God's plan for you is better. It's you, the real you, clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:48). The you that you are by creation and redemption is not fundamentally a problem you have to work around but fundamentally a strategy God wants to work through.

May all our kingdoms fall away. May his power come down on us all.