Before returning to the ministry, I took some electrical courses and earned a degree in electrical maintenance. The electrical student needs to have a firm grasp on the flow of electricity. Electrical work is one of the more dangerous occupations in the world today. One small slip can result in one major disaster. While learning about electricity, I learned about two very important devices in the electrical world: switches and plugs. Switches are devices that allows the user to close a circuit (linking in to the power…this is the ON position) or to open a circuit (linking out of the power…positioned in the OFF position). Electricians usually refer to a circuit being CLOSED or OPEN as opposed to being ON and OFF. When a switch is in the CLOSED position, the switch allows the power to flow through the device and travel to the load (light, motor, or whatever is being powered). Plugs, or receptacles, on the other hand, are always CLOSED in to the circuit. With the exception of a GFCI plug, normal plugs are always plugged into the power source.
Being a minister, I have noticed two types of people in the world that can be depicted by these two electrical devices. Switches stand between the electrical power and the device. Sometimes these devices are turned on, but on many occasions they are turned off. Many people are like those switches. They switch off the power to God when things do not go their way. They become quenchers o the Holy Spirit and obstacles instead of helps. Plugs, or receptacles, are always turned on to the power source. The plug stands ready to share the electricity flowing through it. So, how do you tell a difference between a person who is a switch or a plug?
Switches Hold Grudges, Plugs Readily Forgive
Again, switches may have power flowing to them, but they do not always have power flowing through them. If a switch is turned to its’ “OFF” position, lights and motors will not run. A good way to keep God’s Spirit from flowing through you is to keep grudges. For some, one harsh comment, or even a corrective comment, sets the person off. The “switch person” will swell up like a blowfish. Their mentality is, “How dare you say that to me? Do you not know who I am?” At the center of such a one is not a life of discipleship, but a life of pride. Pride is destructive. So, instead of turning past hurts and failures to the Lord, the “switch person” dams up any spiritual disciplines available to him/her and holds in anger, pessimism, and spite. In the end, the “switch person” only harms him/herself.
The “plug person” has the Spirit of God flowing through his/her life. Things may come. Hurts may arise. However, at the end of the day, the “plug person” will be able to allow the forgiveness of God to flow through his/her life. This person realizes the great depth of forgiveness bestowed upon them by God and understands the responsibility that comes by such forgiveness.
One of the greatest examples of a “plug person” (or a person “plugged-in to God”) is a lady that I recently interviewed on my internet radio show “Redeeming Truth” (found at www.blogtalkradio.com/pastorbrianchilton). Her name was Siv Ashley. Siv was a survivor of the concentration camps in Cambodia. She has a book coming out in September of 2013 called “Siv: a Memoir.” Anyhow, Siv was rescued by American soldiers and came to America. Furthermore, she learned about Jesus from her godly father before the atrocities of Pol Pot’s regime took place. She eventually went back to Cambodia on a missions trip where she met a pastor who had been one of the soldiers who had killed her family. He begged her forgiveness. She stared at him and said, “Brother, I already have.” That is the power of forgiveness found in the Lord. That does not mean that the murders and disasters were okay, but it allowed for great release as both sought to give the atrocities to the Lord.
Compare this to the grudges that many people hold today. Many, thankfully, will never face the torments that Siv and countless other Cambodians have suffered, yet they will become enraged at another due to something posted on Facebook or Twitter. Honestly, most complaints found on social networking sites are trivial and useless. What if we all learned the power of forgiveness that Siv displayed? Quite frankly, our Lord commands such forgiveness. So, are you a plug or a switch?
Switches Are Egocentric, Plugs are Theocentric
Another way to classify switches and plugs are by the focus found in such individuals. Since switches can hold back power (in the case of Christianity, such a person would quench the Spirit of God), a “switch person” can be said to be egocentric; whereas a plug constantly allows the power to flow (in the case of Christianity, such a person would be centered on the power of God), a “plug person” can be said to be theocentric. Before moving on, let us define egocentric and theocentric. Egocentric means that a person is focused upon self. Ego is the Greek term for “self.” In contrast, theocentric means that a person is centered on God. Theos is the Greek term for “God.”
Those who are “switch people” will constantly fight against anything that will force them to lose control. All of us, including myself, are egocentric to a degree. The temptation to become egocentric is something that Christians must fight. The Christian life is not so much about the self as it is the Savior. The Christian life forces us to depend upon God and not self. Even the most ardent atheist will find that he/she will lose control of situations at certain times during his/her life.
Those who are “plug people” are individuals who constantly seek to be in the center of God’s will. These individuals realize their need for Christ’s direction through the Holy Spirit. For a person to be in the center of God’s will, one must be willing to allow God to take full-control. That might mean that a worship service will not end according to schedule. It might mean that you will be delayed in your plans. It might mean that you will not be in control. It might mean that your 5-year plan will not go as you imagined. But, isn’t this what the Christian is supposed to do anyhow? Isn’t the Christian supposed to be on God’s agenda and not their own?
Many more attributes could be given to denote the difference between switches and plugs. But if the analogy of switches and plugs sounds somewhat familiar, it should. Jesus gave a similar analogy with the image of a vine. Jesus said,
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father” (John 15:1-8, NLT).
As I have just concluded the book The U-Turn Church by Kevin G. Harney and Bob Bouwer, I must say that I am concerned about many of our modern American churches. Could it not be that the reason that so many of our American congregations are struggling, if not dying, is due to the fact that many act more like switches than plugs? It may be that we are accustomed to a certain schedule. It may be that we like a certain form of music more than another. It may be that we like things as they are. However, did you notice a common word found in the previous statements? The word was “we.” Did you notice what word was absent in those statements? The word missing was “God.” We must stand ready to give an account when we stand before God. Let me challenge all of us in the church, united in the body of Christ to become plugs…allowing the Spirit of God to flow faster than water over Niagra Falls and to burn hotter than a firestorm in a dry wheat field. Do not be a switch quenching the Holy Spirit! Allow the Spirit to flow freely! Come Holy Spirit! Flood our lives and burn within us!!!
Seeking to be a plug flowing with the Holy Spirit’s power,
Pastor Brian Chilton