How Do We Power Up for the Christian Life?

Since the days of Pac-Man, gamers have been on a quest for power. Whether it’s the star man in Super Mario Bros., a bottled fairy in Hyrule, or catching “On fire!” in NBA Jam, gamers are looking for special items and opportunities that transform their abilities and give them extra strength to conquer enemies. The change a power-up brings can make all the difference!

We also need power to grow and live as Christians—power to defeat sin, power to love others, and power to follow God’s will. For this reason, God has given his people the Holy Spirit. Growth in Christ is a lifelong partnership with the Holy Spirit in which we are changed to become more and more like Jesus. The good news of Christians’ growth is that the Spirit doesn’t only change Christians a little. No. God’s Holy Spirit changes your entire life!

Changed Thinking, Affections, and Behavior

When Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, he told them, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what this the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2 ESV). This verse shows us that change in the Christian life often begins with the way we think. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s work, our minds conform to the patterns of this world. But the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to transform our minds and change our outlook so that we’re no longer focused on ourselves but have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6–16).

In his Word, God teaches us about himself, the world he created, and how are to live in it. David tells us that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119: 105). As we read, study, and memorize passages from the Bible, God uses his Word to change us. Whether we’re young or old, a pastor or a student, a new believer or an old saint, we never outgrow our need to read, hear, sing, and speak the Scriptures.

And as we behold Christ’s beauty and glory in the Bible, we become like him. The Spirit gives us new attitudes and affections. Because we love Christ, we learn to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. Our actions and behavior change as well. We come to God’s Word and cry out to him in prayer, then the Spirit powers us to obey God and to serve him with a strength that surpasses our own.

Word, Prayer, and Trials

Along his Word, God uses prayer and even difficulties to strengthen us and help us to grow more like Christ.

Through prayer, we communicate our fears, joys, hopes, and disappointments to God. We also ask the Lord to hear us and make us into disciples who love his Word and want to obey his will. In Psalm 119, David prays, “Teach me your decrees” (v. 26b). Again and again, he says, “Instruct me. Lead me. Show me.” We can be confident that when we pray these prayers, God will answer us (1 John 5:14). The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to understand God’s Word and will.

Finally, we grow through trials and suffering. At some point in life, we all face difficult and unexpected circumstances—a friend treats you badly, a pet dies without warning, or you have to move and start a new school. But as we live out God’s Word in difficult circumstances, we are changed. As we trust God through suffering, we’re changed into his image day after day.

Power to Love through Weakness

Because it comes through Word, prayer, and trials, the Spirit’s power is different from a video game power-up. God’s power is never a weapon that gives us power over other people. Rather, it’s the power to serve and love others even in the times when we feel weak. We honor God’s people, practice hospitality, and care for their needs. We live lives that are characterized by love, joy, patience, gentleness, and peacemaking. We are not overcome by evil, but we overcome evil with good (Galatians 5:22–23; Romans 12:9–21).

Also, God’s power isn’t always easy to see. Being filled with the Spirit won’t make you flash different colors like Mario does when he finds a star. No one may notice the times when God’s power is most at work in you. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s exactly how God has designed it. As the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When do you feel weak? Read God’s Word, depend on him in prayer, and rejoice in your weakness and suffering because that’s when the Spirit of Christ demonstrates his perfect power through us. In those times of quiet obedience and unnoticed acts of love, God is powerfully at work to make you more like him.

Faith Builder Catechism

faith builder catechism

Faith Builder Catechism is a 52-week devotional that helps families press pause on screen time and develop healthy discipleship rhythms in a fun, interactive format. Authors Kevin Hippolyte, Jared Kennedy, and Trey Kullman lead the way for families to establish regular discipleship conversations and cultivate a deeper knowledge of the theology expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments, the doctrines of grace, the Great Commission, and the Lord’s Prayer. 

About the author

Jared Kennedy

Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, serves as an editor at The Gospel Coalition and as cofounder of Gospel-Centered Family, a ministry that helps churches and families share Jesus with the next generation. He is the author of The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible and the Beginner's Gospel Story Book series, God Made Me for Worship, and Keeping Your Children's Ministry on Mission. He is coauthor of Faith Builder Catechism. He has also helped develop two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet. He and his wife, Megan, have three daughters.

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