Editorial: The Unusual Usual

David Oliver

Brownouts. When the demand for power exceeds the supply, the lights dim. The cassette music drags to a slower octave. The average demand for electric power in the USA is 5% greater than utility companies can provide. In addition, sometimes malfunctioning transmission equipment causes a brownout.

Did you ever preach the gospel or try to tell a neighbor about the Savior and sense a "brownout?" Did you ever face an irritation in traffic or with the children or in your marriage when there was a sudden "brownout?" Somehow you didn’t have the spiritual power for the moment.

The rip tide of the "mystery of lawlessness," the unabashed immorality of the world, the hectic pace of life, the encroaching philosophies of the enemy, when added to the daily challenges, seem to create spikes of power demand.

Perhaps it just seems that our times demand more spiritual power, but no generation would admit to having it easy spiritually. Even if every condition were a south wind blowing softly, the nominal, everyday responsibilities of Christian living require the power of the Spirit of God.

Despite the excesses of wrong teaching in religious circles about the Spirit of God, Spirit-filled living (Eph 5:15-21) is normal Christianity. This is the usual characteristic of any life that glorifies God. You might as well try to light the darkness with a disconnected electric lamp as to live for the Lord without the power of the Holy Spirit. This also is the usual in the unusual demands of life. The Scriptures statement, "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them" (Acts 4:8), does not suggest that something unusual happened when Peter faced this crisis. The usual characteristic of Peter’s life opened the way for "more of the same" as the moment demanded.

A heart filled with the joy of God’s salvation demands the full power of the Spirit. So does a marriage in which each loves the other with a self-sacrificing devotion and serves the needs of the other. So does a young person making the major decisions of life and an aging believer facing his physical limitations and a worshiper bringing his will to the altar of devotion and parents longing to know "how to order the child" or facing the unusual demands of guiding a changing teenager and believers praying in the mid week prayer meeting and an elder carrying the burden of the sheep in his heart and helping hold the helm in stormy waters and a Sunday School teacher opening the Word of God to teach children for the first time or a veteran preacher building to his most well worn text and so does a mother sitting in the middle of the fifth trip of her daily taxi service, or unexpectedly changing diapers for the third time this morning. When the ordinary believer unexpectedly faces the extraordinary that will forever change his life, he needs the same full supply.

Thank God! There is never the possibility that demand will outstrip the supply. There need be no "brownouts" in Christian living, no matter in what generation or circumstances. At this late date, so far from the Cross and so near to the Coming, the power is undiminished, ever sufficient.

The "brownouts" result from faulty transmission. Comparing the parallel passages in Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16,17 we learn that transmission of this power involves our responsibility, actively applying the Word of God to our lives and passively submitting to the control of the Spirit of God. In this way, the usual in our lives will become something unusual in this world, likeness to Christ and grace that glorifies God. The unusual demands will be mastered by the usual power of Christian living. Perhaps we will be delivered from the notion that the most spiritual choices in life are uncharacteristic, exotic, headline-grabbing and unusual.

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