There is a lot of comfort in being at church on a Sunday, in singing songs, and in listening to a minister. But is this all there is to Christianity? Just a once-a-week or twice-a-week gathering of singing songs and listening to preaching?
Whenever I read the Bible, my eyes widen at the accounts of people who led extraordinary lives for God. It makes me wonder where these people are now. Where are those who laid their hands on the sick? Where are those who led armies? Those who called down fire from Heaven? Those who made blind eyes see? Are the Christians of our modern day world a watered-down version of the believers in the Bible?
If we argue that God does not work in this manner with people anymore, then we go against Scripture. It says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” If God used people greatly before, then what’s to stop Him from using people greatly now? Jesus says in the Bible, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
Greater things. I guess we have to wonder: how many of us are doing greater things than Jesus did? Why are we so boring? Can we live greater? Are we too afraid of living this kind of intense life?
You may say, “But I am a Christian. A true Christian who’s given his/her life to Jesus! I’m just normal. I don’t stand out. It’s not wrong to be normal, right?
My friend, is it wrong for a war horse to think that all it can do is graze in peaceful pastures? Is it wrong for a 220V lamp to be constantly plugged into a 110V current? We were made for great things. Why should we settle for less than the patterns and promises of Jesus? Sadly, we have so conditioned ourselves to think small; to think that Christianity is all religion without power.
Some might argue further and say, “But what if I’m called to do small things, and that “Mr. John Doe” in the other room has a different calling, a bigger calling?” My friend, if there is a calling for EVERY CHRISTIAN to follow, it is the call to take up the cross and follow Jesus! This means that if in Jesus’ lifetime, He healed the sick and raised the dead; if in His lifetime, He went from city to city preaching the Kingdom of God, then we can do the same! We should have the mindset of the Apostle Paul who said, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21)
I am NOT suggesting that we all resign from work or leave school just suddenly. God knows how to lead us, and He places our assignments in our hearts. These assignments vary, and you will find them linked to your talents, gifts, and season in life. If God wants you to live extraordinarily as a student for Him, then do exactly that. Don’t be a normal student; be an extraordinary one! If God wants you to be a powerful witness in the business world, then be an honest and superb businessman for Him. You don’t have to be a “church worker” to live for Christ. You can start where you are, in the sphere of influence God put you. But hey, be ready: if God calls you to step out of your comfort zone and share the truth of His love to unreached tribes, then are you ready for that?
Oh, you may not be raising the dead just yet. Still, even now– and every where you go– you can speak life and impact people for Jesus. That in itself is living with power!
Please remember that power without love is useless. We can impact society and be powerful witnesses, but do our hearts matter? Yes. The Bible says that if we give our bodies to the flames and give all we have to the poor, but have no love, then we are nothing. We gain nothing. (This is found in 1 Corinthians 13.)
Whenever One Voice goes out on a missions trip, and I have the opportunity to lay my hands on the sick, I ask God to make me love the way He loves, and to see people the way He does. I want to love greatly because what matters in the whole scheme of things is LOVING GOD and LOVING OTHERS. Does healing happen? Oh yes! But more than that, loving happens! Love makes people see Jesus.
Loving is a command from God. 1 John 4 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The only way we can love others greatly and to live greatly with power is to love. Let us not be mistaken. The danger in having power without intimately loving and knowing Christ (and having this love spill-over from our hearts to our hands!) is seen in Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
We can drive out demons and perform many miracles in Christ’s name, but if we do not know Jesus– Love Himself; Love Incarnate– then we are in danger of hearing God say, “I never knew you! Away from me, you evildoer!”
God is LOVE (1 John 4:8). God wants LOVE to mark you; to be that distinctive aroma in a Christian because that is who He is. You call yourself a Christian? Then love Jesus and love like Jesus!
Christianity should never be just a once-a-week or twice-a-week “thing.” We should be challenged to love like Jesus; to make our hearts break for people; to make our hearts seek God and the fullness of His love.
You may ask: now, how do you do that? The secret is to spend time with LOVE Himself. Spend time with God. Just like knowing any person intimately, we must spend time with the Lord to know what He wants, how He views things, and how He loves. By spending time with Him, we get to know what He is passionate about and what breaks His heart. We get to know His heart for people.
God has given us a long love letter to know Him. This is the Bible. How often do we spend time reading the Bible to know God’s heart?
A great, extraordinary life is a life of LOVE. It is a life of power. There is no such thing as an “ordinary Christian” if we know how to love. How can we be ordinary if Christ lives in us?
My friend, you don’t have to be a minister to lay hands on people and declare healing to them in Jesus’ name. You don’t have to be an elder at church or a Sunday school teacher to tell people about the greatness of our God or to drive out demons. We honor these people and respect their positions and authority, but the same power that lives in them lives in you! The big question for you is this: do you love? Any real Christian who loves can do the “greater works” spoken of by Christ. Do not get caught up with titles; you already have a powerful one: CHILD of the Most High God. You are a PRINCE and a PRINCESS of the Kingdom. The abundance and resources of all of Heaven are at your disposal! The same power that was in Jesus lives in you today!
The Apostle Paul penned some beautiful words in Ephesians 1: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he [God] has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come….”
There is tremendous power available to us who believe in Jesus’ name, and it is exercised with love. Let the love of Christ propel us to live extraordinarily and to love extraordinarily!
First published in One Voice Magazine’s Love Issue.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.