I’m afraid many Christians see the Holy Spirit like some kind of spiritual appendix: they’re not really sure why he’s there in the first place. And if it was removed, we’d probably get along just fine.
Most of us believe we need the Holy Spirit’s power when we worship God, but we’ve minimized his role. What does it mean to ‘worship in spirit and in t
ruth’? Paul reminded the Philippians that ‘we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory of Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh’ (Phil. 3:3)
When Heather and I were moving to our new house in Pflugerville, I foolishly carried our dining table (by myself) into the house. The next morning I could hardly get out of bed. I spent the entire day being dependent on her to take care of me. That day I was constantly reminded of one thing: I hate feeling dependent.
The truth is that I am weak and needy and dependent every time I step up to lead worship. Sinful desires wage war against me in my heart (1 Peter 2:11). The world has been calling me all week to immoral pleasures, ungodly attitudes, and passing rewards (1 John 2:15-17). And the Enemy is looking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8)
We are desperately dependent.
The Holy Spirit is here to help us. We show our dependence by asking him to empower us. Guide us. Lead us. That’s why we’re taught to pray in and by the Spirit and to pray for the Spirit’s working. He helps us in our weakness when we pray.
Confessing our utter dependence on the Holy Spirit should produce a deep sense of gratitude, humility, and peace in our hearts. It should free us from anxiety about how the service will flow, if band members will play correctly, if vocalists will be on pitch, and how people will respond to us. After all, it’s not our strength that displays God’s power, but our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
But we also need more than a simple acknowledgement of God’s Spirit. We also need to have an expectancy that He will act. Do our actions communicate that we believe God is actually with us? Deep down, do we expect him to reveal his power as we worship together?
Ultimately it is about what you and I believe about God. If he really is the great Jehovah, he really is unchanged, unchanging, and unchangeable. He really is the everlasting and eternal God. He really does still act.
Some of us believe in the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence theoretically, but don’t seem to believe God is active when we meet. He’s the Spirit of power in name only. Our focus is more on executing our plan than expecting God to do anything. We move through a song list without considering what the Spirit may want to accomplish as we sing.
The Holy Spirit is present and at work every time the church gathers. When people grasp something of God’s glory, the Spirit is at work. When people are convicted of sin, the Spirit is at work. When people receive hope and strength in the midst of a trial, the Spirit is at work. The Spirit reveals himself in any number of ways each time we gather.
God may not reveal his power in spectacular ways every time we meet, but we can expect him to reveal it in some way. And I’m fairly certain he wants to show his power much more often than we expect him to.