To say we’ve become dependent on technology is an understatement. On the rare day I leave the house without my phone, I feel paralyzed. What if I miss something on my calendar? What if I get an important message? If my family needs me, how will they get in touch with me? And the particularly stressful: What if I need to know something and I can’t Google it?
But even worse is when I leave the house with my phone, headed to a long event, and up pops the “low battery” notification 😲. To have my phone in my hand but be unable to use it for what I want to use it for is torture!
As much as we are dependent on our devices, our devices are dependent on power. Without power, our screens go black and we are disconnected from our world. And though batteries have increased in capacity so has our capacity to draw on them. It’s a rare day that my phone’s overnight charge lasts until I plug it back in at night!
Easter seemed to sneak up on me this year. Amidst the snow days, a ‘spring’ (😂) break trip to Vermont, and my husband traveling to Haiti, my personal spiritual preparation fell to the wayside and I walked into church Sunday morning feeling like my battery was drained. My introverted-self had been severely over-peopled, and no matter how much I love those people, I had nothing left to give.
Thousands of years ago, the God of Israel gave his people a command to love. Not only were they to love Him with all of their heart, soul, and strength, but they were also to love others. Obedience to this command would set Israel apart from the nations around them and be a foundation that would lead them to thrive as a people.
But as we read their story in the Old Testament, we see that they just couldn’t do it. They had their moments – where their hearts were toward the Lord and the Lord alone and where people were cared for in the way He intended. Overall, though, humans – even these specially chosen and blessed humans – appeared to be powerless in making “love” a consistent reality.
When Jesus came, He continued to reinforce this same command. The majority of His recorded words all point to the importance of loving God and others, and how this love would define the the new Kingdom He was ushering in. But this time things would be different as He would send a “Helper,” the Holy Spirit to give His people the power to do it. (John 14:26)
I’m old enough to remember that ancient time when our ‘screens’ needed to be connected via power cord to a wall outlet in order to function. And I remember when the battery-powered “laptop” computer showed up and revolutionized our lives! Our powered screens – and all the abilities they gave us – could now go with us wherever we went.
After His resurrection, Jesus said this to His disciples: “But 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) This power wasn’t just a boost of motivational momentum, it was, in the Greek, “dunamis” which means “ability to perform,” and in this context, the ability to perform “through God’s ability”.* Though before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit only gave certain abilities to certain people at certain times, this power would now be available to all believers at all times.
Loving God is hard. There’s never been a time when I ‘couldn’t stop thinking about Him’ and there are plenty of times every day where I place my affections on other things. And loving people? Even if they consistently acted according to my will and never did anything to hurt or offend me, it would still be a struggle. There are many days I feel like a disconnected black screen – I don’t even have the desire to love God or people, let alone the power!
But as Philippians 2:13 says, “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” I was never meant to love with my own power. I was meant to depend completely on the “dunamis” of the Holy Spirit, which is constantly available to me. Jesus’ resurrection allows me to charge up with endless currents of His unfailing love, which is far greater than anything I could ever muster up!
I’m also old enough to remember that ancient time when you had to plug your phone into a wall outlet to charge it. Yes, my phone’s charge rarely lasts a full day, but I never have to worry about that because, thanks to my handy-dandy charging block, I can recharge wherever I go.
Charging up on the love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit once a week (as I attempted last week) or even once a day is not enough – the demand and draw of loving people drains our batteries much faster than that. But setting my mind on the Spirit by praying, listening to worship music, mentally reciting memorized Scripture, or just simply asking Him for help recharges my heart to love!