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Sunday, April 19, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

If the power of the church is not of Pentecost, then it is of the flesh. If it is of the flesh, then it is useless. Further, it is detrimental to the ultimate desires of the Holy Spirit.

There are seasons when well-meaning believers run ahead of God. This may be done with the misuse of power. Such may be evident today regarding some political- social issues related to morality.

Christians, particularly in an age rife with ethical dilemmas, may go scurrying about in one power play or another in an attempt to Christianize society. Sometimes this agenda even includes pushing--in the flesh--Jesus Christ upon eternally lost souls.

If the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with this agenda, then it is folly. Further, it can become an embarrassment to the Spirit it means to elevate. It may even frustrate the heaven-meant agenda.

For example, the moral impingements of today include: abortion, condoned homosexual practices, heterosexual promiscuities, abuses of horrific varieties, hunger, poverty, spiritual laxities, occultic inroads, media secularism, blasphemies of varying sorts, apostasy within the Christian religion, and souls yet unredeemed.

With such a build-up of desperation, many sincerely driven Christians go forth to battle against evil in the flesh. They usually implement their energies with one power play or another.

At times this is an individual drive; in other instances, this may be organizationally maneuvered. In various periods of history, even segments of Christendom have been responsible for taking perceived God-might into their own hands in lording it over some body. For example, Protestants have burnt "enemies" at the stake. This is power of the flesh. Further, Catholics have burnt "enemies" at the stake. This is power of the flesh.

We have seen in our time the anti-abortion enthusiasts scowl, scream, punch fists into the air, threaten, shoot at and torch properties in the name of Jesus. This is power of the flesh.

We have witnessed so-called Christian anti-homosexual energizers torture, threaten, malign, send hate letters, and publicly screech at these persons. This is power of the flesh.

How then should Christians behave in an immoral world?

Our standard is always Jesus. The only persons Jesus openly castigated were religious hypocrites: Pharisees, apostate scribes, reprobate high priests. Jesus never leveled such treatment against anyone else: Roman soldiers, Pontius Pilate, Herod, thieving tax collectors, prostitutes.

Following Jesus' example, we then should begin with our own religious house: Christendom. Jesus started with His own religion in cleaning house. He railed against the temple regime: white-washed tombs, generation of snakes, foxes, swine. He tossed over tables in public display--power visible, tangible.

When His Spirit fell upon the 120, He power-housed their carnal souls clean, rearranged their priorities, revamped their egos, blew them over with mighty winds, and set their tongues gospeling in intelligible news understood by the 16 dialects gathered in the streets.

If believers want to make a Pentecost impact against the abortion trade, Hugh Hefners, exhibitionist homosexuals, and black witches then Christians need to get their own house cleaned up. And there is plenty of cleaning to do.

With that seen through, what then?

Again, Jesus is our standard. He never forced salvation upon anyone. He never thrust holiness upon anyone. He offered. He invited. He explained. And then he left the matter with the human free will. God always honors that free will mechanism He planted within His height of creation.

God never screams grace, threatens mercy, scowls the gospel, nor uses hate to offer peace. God never burns down a Buddhist temple, shoots at a Hindu nor punches His fist in the air against an atheist.

God has slain lying religionists. Ask Ananias and Sapphira. He has spanked an adulterer who professed to be moral. Ask King David. He has publicly, pointedly warned a lapsing disciple. Ask Peter.

Yet when it comes to those outside the gospel circle, God convicts in love.

No wonder the portrait of the Savior depicts Him knocking on the closed door. He never pounds down that door. He always waits for the free will to open it--or let it remain closed.

Jesus is always a gentleman, especially to those who have lost their ways in the abortion trade, practicing homosexuality, New Age nonsense, pornographic addictions, cultic entanglements, sexual promiscuities, and the like.

Can we dare be less?