"I'm totally satisfied living a mediocre life," said no one ever.
In the last several days I have been thinking about what makes people remarkable - unwilling to give up, despite what life throws at them, despite hardship ... oh I'm not talking about the 'trial' of a silly slow internet signal, but true challenge, displacement, civil wars, maybe even persecution such as hundreds of thousands are currently facing worldwide.
I have been thinking about two radically changed men, who made their marks on the world and what made them so remarkable. Remarkable because they were unstoppable. Both were dramatically transformed and emboldened by two things. Step a little closer, please.
First ingredient for these men: one Jesus of Nazareth. He changed all the rules, set God-fearing folks free from the tyranny of the Law. Set them free to live and love in a whole new way.
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his eminent journey to the cross, he told them, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."1
Crucified and risen from the dead, just before he ascended into Heaven, Jesus Christ gave them [his followers[ this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about."2 Luke described the day, beginning in Acts chapter two, as the wind of the Spirit swept into the chamber of praying believers, filling all of those present. What would it have been like - that day so long ago?
First ingredient: Jesus. Second ingredient that leads to unstoppable ... the Holy Spirit. From that day forward, the devoted of Jesus would be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings his presence and imparts power, dear friends. Power. to. be. unstoppable.
Which explains what got into Peter, the first of the two men I have been considering. One of Jesus' inner circle, Peter was transformed from thrice-denier of Jesus to a powerful force-one might say, an unstoppableforce. Once filled with the Holy Spirit of God that Pentecost morning, a very transformed man addressed a large Jerusalem crowd of festival observers that afternoon.
"Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know (Yes, they knew all right! Word was out from Jerusalem to Tiberius to Capernaum and points in between; people knew that this rabbi, Jesus, miraculously healed people. Hence, no one shouted Peter down, no one knocked him off his soapbox.)
"This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (wait - is this the same coward who denied Jesus three times in one night? Here he stands accusing all of those gathered listening to him! What could account for such a change, that he would stand there and call them out? How could he have backed down to a serving girl who recognized him as having been with Jesus, but then risked life and limb on this day? Man oh man.)
Peter continues, "But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."3 (Same thing-no one shouted Peter down because Jesus had been with more than 500 people since the resurrection. They knew that. In a court of law to this day, nothing is more powerful than eyewitness testimony.) Jesus + the Holy Spirit = unstoppable.
No one shouted Peter down or picked up rocks to stone him; instead, a Spirit-filled Peter preached so powerfully that more than 3,000 people came to trust in Jesus the Jewish Messiah! What in the world had gotten into Peter? Holy. Spirit.
Daily, I ask God to refill me with the power that is available in the Holy Spirit because while his presence never leaves me, I can easily crowd out his power. It is the Holy Spirit who makes you and me unstoppable.
1 - John 14.16-17
2 - Acts 1.4
3 - Acts 2.22-24