The Evangelist

Joe Gruber

Love and Power

A couple of years ago I was struggling to get my cell phone to charge. I thought it was the cord, so I bought a new one. That wasn’t the issue, because there were still mornings I would wake up to a dead phone. I finally got frustrated enough to visit my local Verizon store. The associate took my phone into the back to take a look. After ten minutes the Verizon rep came back and told me she fixed it at no charge. When I asked what the issue was, she said rather loudly, “You had a bunch of lint in your port!” I felt the whole store looking at me with disgust. I thought she was trying to embarrass me.

That experience got me thinking about our lives as evangelists. Jesus is the one who saves people. And I’m so glad He does! The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of sin, leads us into all truth, and brings us to repentance. We get the amazing privilege of partnering with Jesus to bring good news to people. We’re the delivery system God chose. Jesus gave us His Spirit to get the mission accomplished and empowered us to be His witnesses.

Much like a cell phone, the activities and work of the ministry can leave us needing a recharge. We need His power every minute of the day to make an impact in this broken and dark world. The consistent discipline of spending time alone with God is a major lifeline if we are to align with His desire for us is to walk in power and love.

Like the lint in the port, sin in our lives can prevent us from being properly connected to our source of power and love. God instructs us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles so we can run the race marked out for us with perseverance. The key is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. He’s the pioneer, originator, and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Sometimes the solution is simple, like slowing down and taking time with the Lord. I don’t know about you, but God’s instruction to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is hard. We stay busy; our calendars are full. But we can’t let the busyness of doing the mission overshadow intimacy with the One who sends us.

I live in Portland, Oregon. The homeless population inhabits every possible place. One day I was driving through downtown and saw a homeless man sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. His dog was lying in the gutter next to him. My eyes and heart moved past the man directly to the dog and I was moved with compassion. You heard that right. In that moment, I had more compassion for the dog. I overlooked the man Jesus paid a horrific price on a cross for. I was so convicted by the Holy Spirit I began to weep and prayed, “God change my heart. Cause it to break for people. I need more love.”

Power needs to be fueled by love. I needed a profoundly fresh revelation of God’s love in that moment. Even with our best spiritual intentions and disciplines we will have bad days and struggle to love people like Jesus does. Without His love, we lack power to do what we’re called to do. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) And out of that reality, we give what we so freely and lavishly receive.

The Apostle Paul beautifully stated this truth in a powerful prayer for the Church in Ephesus:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21 NIV

Let’s ask God for a fresh hunger and thirst for His presence. Let that hunger drive us to ask, seek, and knock. It will compel us to abide in Him. The result will always be love and power working in and through our lives. As evangelists, we need those and so much more. May God increase love and power in our lives as we are transformed into the likeness of our King Jesus, from glory to glory.

Born and raised near Los Angeles, Joe Gruber became a professional skateboarder when he was 20 years old. At 22, he had a life-changing encounter with God and became a follower of Jesus. Joe has consistently served as both a volunteer leader and as a staff pastor in a local church capacity for over 20 years. He has also worked for several nonprofits, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association managing a youth and young adults ministry. A few months ago he and a small team moved from Santa Cruz to Portland to plant a church (Hope Church PDX). He is excited and honored to have recently joined the Next Generation Alliance. Joe is married to his best friend Katrina and they have a daughter named Lauren. His greatest joy in life is his family and helping people find and follow Jesus.