Simon Peter — The Rock as his friends called him — was Jesus’ first-round pick to be the leader of the church.
He was not who most of us would have picked. Most of us would have asked what school he went to, where he did his internship, what experience he had in leadership development, and most of us would have asked him for three references.
Yet, Jesus saw something different in him. Jesus saw grit and passion, excitement and risk-taking, compassion and boldness. He saw beyond his impulsiveness and often spiritual immaturity. Jesus saw something in him that we couldn’t have seen: he saw his heart.
Jesus didn’t stop there — Jesus gave him a super power! And he gives us the same opportunity.
Jesus in John 14 said we will be given the same super power, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate will be given to us.
For Peter, The Rock, he used the super power and it transformed the world. He led the world to understand a whole new way of being. Peter and John, after having been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, were compelled to preach, and the religious leaders were angry. They threw them in jail.
They questioned them, asking: “By what power or in what name did you do this?” Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered …” Acts 4: 7-8a
For the church today we to must use this super power, yet we hesitate. We wonder what will happen to us.
We are used to a calm and orderly worship service. We can’t imagine what would happen if the Holy Spirit moved.
Yet I would contend, that every time we are compelled to help someone on the street, or start a new ministry, we are being inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we are caring for the elderly or caring for at-risk children, we are being inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we are feeding the hungry and clothing the naked we are being inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Worship is not the only way the Holy Spirit works; if it is, we are limiting the working of God. I would say, the work of the Holy Spirit is more effective when we are in the world.
Some would say, “How do you know if it is the Holy Spirit and not my own will?”
In the church, we call that discernment. First I would say to ask yourself if this is against what scripture says; for example, if you are feeling like starting a food ministry out of the trunk of your car. Jesus has lots to say about feeding people, so the bible would support that ministry.
What does your history or background have to say? So if you are part of a church or organization, what have they had to say about a food ministry? In my church we have had food ministries off and on for most of our existence. So it’s a yes.
What about logic? Does it make sense to do it? It does make sense to carry food around your trunk and give food away. Yet, how do you use your car trunk for other things; are there things you might be forgetting?
What about experience? Have you had experience with food ministry? Do you know how to run a ministry like this? How will you not burn out? How will find others to help? Who will help you?
And finally, what do your closest friends say about this endeavor? These are people who support you, but can tell you the truth. Do they think this is a pipe dream? Can they see this as a real opportunity?
As you work through these five step: 1. Scripture; 2. Your background/tradition; 3. Logic; 4. Experience; and, 5. Trusted relationships, you will have a sense if this is something you are doing for you or if it from the Holy Spirit.
I can tell you from experience, when you apply this 5-step process, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is guiding versus your will.
I pray you will use this super power that is available to each of us. Remember, you matter to God and you matter to us. There is a church near you that is open and ready to welcome you.
If you are looking for a place to belong we would welcome you with open arms, at 10 a.m. each Sunday!
Marie Smith is Pastor of the Wilmington United Methodist Church.