I have mentioned before that my wife and I spend a decent amount of time on the road traveling throughout the year and a good portion of that time is on the interstate. With our families spread out over various states the interstate is by far the fastest way for us get where we need to go. My driving profile is pretty spotless but if there is one criticism it would probably be that I drive a little bit too fast. Not so fast that I actually get tickets but fast enough to get pulled over and get a warning from time to time. My tendency to speed is probably why I got a Chevy Monte Carlo in the first place as it is used in NASCAR races.
It is while I am cruising down the interstate in my Monte Carlo that I come across a situation which makes me shake my head in disbelief. Because I drive faster than most it is inevitable that I am continually passing other drivers and what bothers me is when I pass people driving cars that could leave my Monte Carlo in the dust. My car isn’t the Super Sport (SS) version so there really is nothing special under the hood. So when I pass a Chevy Corvette or a Cobra Mustang or any number of much faster cars I have a few questions being asked in my head. “Don’t you know what you’re driving? Don’t you know what’s under the hood of that car? Why are you driving THAT car with THAT kind of engine slower than me?” My disappointment in their driving is rooted in the fact that the full potential of that car isn’t being realized. Their car is capable of So. Much. More.
I feel the same sense of disbelief and disappointment when I read Paul’s words to the Corinthian church.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”—1 Corinthians 3:16
In many ways I think that when Paul is addressing a very dysfunctional church body he has many of the same feelings that I experienced while passing sport cars. “Don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know what resides within you? Why are you living your life, with that kind of Spirit power under the hood, in the way that you are?” Paul’s sense of the situation is that if they understood the power of God’s Spirit, and fully realized that the same kind of power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is not only in their midst but readily available , then they would live their lives in a drastically different manner.
Far too often we read a verse like 1 Corinthians 3:16 and our attention goes to the things we shouldn’t do because we are collectively a temple of God’s Spirit as the body of Christ. This verse becomes the reason we don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t get tattoos, don’t get piercings, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t. While I agree that we need the power of the Spirit to resist temptations and avoid things that are detrimental to ourselves and others, such an understanding of the Spirit’s power falls utterly short of the kind of Spirit empowered life that God desires for us. God’s Spirit empowers us to DO. Heaven help us if the lives of Christians were to be best described by a list of things that we don’t do. Hasn’t that in some way already happened? Our lives as believers ought to be overwhelmingly described by a long list of things we do in this world. It’s not a list of good things that we do so that God will love us but it’s a list of good things that we do because God has loved us. Not only has God already loved us but he has also empowered us by filling us with His Spirit.
How easily we forget the power of God’s Spirit. It’s the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. How easily we forget the immediate and abiding presence of the Spirit in and through our lives. You can’t get any closer than residing within you. The way to find out the full power of an engine is for you to push the pedal all the way down to the floor. If only we were to push the gas pedals in our lives further than we have been. Perhaps it is time for you to lean into the power of the Spirit. I know that it is long overdue for me. Maybe you’ve been ‘riding the brake’ a bit. Instead of pushing the accelerator you’ve got your foot on the brake ready to stop for anything and everything because you are overly cautious and anxious. If Paul were to write a letter to people like you and I today I think he would write something like this:
By the power of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead you are capable of So. Much. More. Quit riding the brake and give it some gas!