Formations 05.17.2020: The Responsibility of Power

Acts 1:1-11

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an adult. My best friend and I had a favorite game to play every time we were together: we called it “apartment.” To play “apartment,” we simply pretended to be young adults. We designated areas of the house or yard as our living spaces and then acted out various scenarios of normal adult life. She would visit me and I would visit her. We’d go out on double dates with our imaginary boyfriends. We’d work at our “jobs.” We’d pretend to grocery shop or eat at restaurants and then return home to our apartments. Roleplaying adulthood gave us a feeling of power.

I think many children long to grow up. The idea of managing our own lives, making our own choices about clothes and food and possessions, and maintaining our own spaces really does feel powerful. Of course, those of us who have made the transition from childhood to adulthood know that, as the quote made famous by Spider-Man says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” With all the freedoms of adulthood come all the massive burdens of living in responsible ways.

Jesus’ disciples, close friends, and followers must have felt powerless after he was arrested, killed, and buried in a tomb. Why else would they have fearfully locked themselves in a room (see Jn 20:19)? Wonderfully, Jesus appeared in their midst that very moment and offered them “peace.”

After numerous other resurrection appearances, it was time for Jesus to leave and be with God. As he prepared to go, he promised his followers tremendous power: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8a). This must have delighted and encouraged them. They probably couldn’t wait for this power to come to them! But there was a second piece to Jesus’ promise, and it gave his followers tremendous responsibility: “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8b).

Just like we can’t attain the power of adulthood without the burden of making responsible choices, we can’t live into the power of the Holy Spirit without the burden of being responsible witnesses for Jesus Christ. With the power of the Spirit comes the responsibility of sharing Jesus with other people wherever God places us—in our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation, and our world.

With great power comes great responsibility. Are you ready for it?

Discussion

  • When you were a child, what excited you the most about becoming an adult?
  • How did your excitement and expectations of adulthood compare with the reality of becoming an adult? Did you feel powerful? Did you feel responsible?
  • Do you agree that “with great power comes great responsibility”? What happens when powerful people are not responsible with their power?
  • What does the power of the Holy Spirit mean in your life?
  • What do you think is your responsibility in using the power of the Holy Spirit?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, and her husband John. Occasionally, she appears onstage in community theater productions and can sometimes be found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, and she’s still trying to write a young adult novel that her girls will enjoy.

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