With Great Power…

I enjoy comic books.  I love the stories that are told in the pages of comic books.  I love heroes that save the day, and the villains that challenge them.  There is something inspiring about the good versus evil dynamic that really resonates with me and draws me into the story. I also have to confess a love for comic book movies as well.  I enjoy both mediums. I love the lessons these stories have taught me about sacrifice, loyalty, seeking the common good, the value of places, and doing the right thing even when it costs you something.

For my money, one of the great all time lessons from the world of comic books is found in Spiderman. Peter Parker learns the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility.  I don’t want to rehash the whole story here, but when Peter has the chance to stop a crime from being committed, he chooses to ignore his responsibility and it ends up costing him the life of his Uncle Ben.  Peter learned his lesson and went on to help save people and his city time and time again. He was at his best when the situation seemed the most hopeless. Peter became a force for good with the power that he was given because he understood that Uncle Ben was trying to teach him about what it means to be a good human being.

Peter’s life lesson is one that gets overlooked in the church sometimes.  In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul tells Timothy that, “…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. Just like Timothy, we have also been given the same spirit of power, love, and self -control.  If I had the time, I would write about all three of these things. However, today I want to focus on that word power.  Love and self-control are topics for another day.

We have been given a spirit of power and with that power comes responsibility.  We are told in several places in scripture that with the Holy Spirit comes spiritual gifts. We see in 1 Peter 4:10 that we are each given gifts, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” We also see this clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:7, that Paul is saying the same thing, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”. If you would like to read more about the spiritual gifts and their purposes, then check out 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and Romans 12.

We are given power through the Holy Spirit and the responsibility as part of the body of Christ to use our gifts for building up the body of Christ and for the common good. Unfortunately, we often let our gifts go unused.  There are a variety of different reasons for why we let them go unused. It could be fear. It could be that our gifts go unrecognized because we have never attempted to discover them. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we aren’t allowed to use the gifts because we haven’t been released us to use them by those in spiritual authority over us. If we aren’t careful, all of those reasons can become excuses for why we aren’t doing what God has asked us to do.

Each of us has been given a gift and the responsibility to use that gift. A close look at scripture demonstrates that to us.  Faithfulness to Jesus requires us to discover our gifts and then use them to serve others, build up the body of Christ, and work toward the common good. We are empowered by the Spirit to do this work set out before us. In Ephesians 2:10 we are reminded of our responsibility to do good works.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in.

You will see more of the same all through the book of James. Faithfulness demands that we be good stewards of the gifts God has given to us.  What will we do with the power that has be given to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever explored what your spiritual gifts might be? If not you should start a discussion with your pastor, a mentor, or the leadership in your church. There are a ton of resources that will help point you in the right direction.
  2. Does fear get in the way of you using your gifts?  If so, what scares you exactly?
  3. Do you frequently look to serve others with your spiritual gifts?
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