I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Let Christ's power over sin work through us

When I first got involved with Charismatic Renewal, or Renewal in the Holy Spirit, I was amazed to see the power of Jesus Christ operating through ordinary lay men and women. When they prayed over people, those people changed. The authority of Jesus Christ worked in and through them.

I later found out that these people had given Jesus Christ authority over their lives, especially in the area of repentance. They spoke with confidence about Christ's power desiring to enter the sin areas of the lives of those seeking prayer. When a "prayee" yielded to the power of Christ's forgiveness, that person's life changed dramatically.

At the beginning I was still in the learning process. If someone asked me privately to pray over them, I looked around for more experienced individuals and said, "Why don't we get a group together and pray for you?" Why? I wanted to spread the liability over a group, so I didn't have to bear the brunt of failure.

As I gained more experienced, I was willing to pray over anyone who came to me. At that point I discovered that Jesus works through me as well as He works through others, as long as I give Him power over my life. To give Him authority over sin in my life was central to experiencing His power changing me.

That's exactly what the apostles experience in the Gospel for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. They have spent considerable time with Jesus and have experienced great things. Now Jesus is sending them forth to experience His presence in their lives even though He is bodily absent.

Jesus' life was a manifestation of the Father's power shining through Him. Now the apostles are to take the power they received from Jesus and spread it. They are participating in the dynamics of the Most Holy Trinity, the Father's love for the Son and the Son's love for the Father, which is the Holy Spirit. The apostles carry this power out into the world.

The more they minister in prayer, and in driving out demons, the more they experience their intimacy with Jesus. When they're bodily absent to Jesus, they're most present to His ministry within them. Christ's power flowing through them into others binds people together.

Sometimes when people come to us for prayer ministry, at the end we simply say that we feel so honored that Jesus invited us along to show us what He wanted to do in their lives. It is an honor to be asked to pray with someone because we know that it's Jesus asking. He would not ask if He hadn't already planned to bestow blessings.

On their missionary journey, the apostles are celebrating power over sin, or the power of repentance. When the apostles submit their lives to repentance, God's power in their hearts, they feel closer to Jesus. In fact, the power of casting out demons is at root of the power over sin. As we cancel agreements with the evil one in our lives by repentance, we're set free on a deeper level.

I believe that the greatest joy the Lord shares with us in this life is the joy of repentance. A grace-filled awareness of our sinfulness brings the joy of Christ extending His mercy to lift that sinfulness. Remember, Jesus Himself says, "There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who have no need of repentance."

This grace-filled joy is God's power shining through our lives. The more joy we radiate, the more we're allowing God's power over sin to shine through us. Joy is a divine gift, which flows directly from Christ's mercy.

If you want to evangelize those around you, begin by asking Jesus for the gift of repentance. The more authority you give Him over your life, the more effective you will be in winning others to Him.

In one-to-one ministry, or two-to-two ministry, evangelization takes place. It isn't in massive gatherings that people find answers to their hungers, but in small settings where they can be real with each other. When one person witnesses to another in privacy, the one witnessing and the one receiving aren't afraid to be real. They don't have to protect themselves from what the other might think.

In the Gospel, the apostles were sent forth to preach the message of repentance. That's the same mission Jesus has given us, beginning with our Baptism. The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist and penance make us alive with the power of Christ. They make us holy, more intimate with Jesus. Living a life of repentance is living in intimacy with Jesus -- exactly what your friends and neighbors are searching for. Be intimate with Jesus so that He becomes intimate with others through you.

I'll never forget when a wife came home from being prayed over for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When her husband saw her, he said, "I don't know what you got, but I want it!" Christ's joy is contagious.

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