Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, February 18, 2008

That Holy Spirit Thing...

When I think about all the different roles in life, and the challenges in each of them, I sometimes get overwhelmed. Husband, Father, Pastor, Teacher, Leader, Friend, Neighbor. How do we find our voice, our calling, in each of the realms to which we're called, and then walk in that voice with some measure of consistently; or if not consistency, at least an upward trajectory so that it can truly be said of us that as the years go by, more of Christ is being seen in and through us?

The answer, I believe, is found in my capacity to be rightly related to the Holy Spirit, and conscious of His presence in my life. In order to make the presence of the Holy Spirit a reality, it's important that I develop some consistent embrace of each of the following:

1. ACCEPT the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me. The teaching of the scriptures is that those who know Christ and have turned to Him as their source of life are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Too many are wandering around trying to find what they already have, like looking around the room for the glasses that are on your face. The kind of faith that enabled me to believe that Christ lived, died, rose, and now lives with and in me is no different from the faith required to believe that the Holy Spirit is real and alive in me right now. But it is FAITH that's required, and if we're forever looking for confirmation through miracles, emotions, or other forms of evidence, we're no longer walking by faith. Though we might have believed in our standing with Christ by faith, some of us suddenly become "I'll believe it when I see it" (or feel it) kind of people with respect to our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Far better to simply believe it, because the Bible says it.

2. CONFESS that, apart from the Spirit's power in your life, you will be unable to fulfill your calling. This is the humility part, the brokenness part. This is the part that wholeheartedly agrees with II Corinthians 3:5, and with Jesus words. This is the part that comes from knowing, not in some theoretical way, but deep in our hearts because we've come to know ourselves, that we're like Abraham: called to be fruitful, yet impotent.

But the confession must continue on to also agree with God that, because the Holy Spirit is living in us, we now have a power not our own...a power which will enable us to become a whole new person and do things we would never do on our own - filled with capacity to bless others, love our enemies, speak truth, celebrate, open our hearts, serve, forgive, and much more, all because the Holy Spirit is doing a transforming work inside us. This truth can be just as challenging as the prior one, given our bent towards self condemnation.

3. THANK God, that as you make yourself available to Him today, the Holy Spirit will have the freedom to express Christ's life uniquely through you, so that you can know with some measure of confidence, by faith, that God is enabling you to fulfill your calling to be the presence of Christ in your world; in conversations, work decisions, marriage, relationships, recreation... in all of it, we can go into our day with a confidence that Christ will be seen in and through us. We've offered ourselves to God, given thanks that the Holy Spirit will live in us, and then gone forth, confident that God will live in us.

Let me note that this is why it's so important to develop some habits of prayer and Bible reading, some rule of life (see Aidan way in the sidebar). Without it, we flounder, and lose our bearings. It needn't be that way though. We can know and enjoy life in Christ, and move into our days with a quiet confidence that He will express life through us; not perfectly, not blissfully, but simply. This is, I believe, a large part of what it means to 'walk humbly with your God'.


At 18/2/08 20:12, Anonymous AD said...

Pastor Richard,

Thanks again for another challenging sermon this past Sunday. Realizing that we are all inadequate in many ways to fulfill our calling helps us come to a place where we can actually work toward reaching God's goal for our lives.

PS: Glad you also enjoyed Dvorak's New World Symphony this past week.

At 19/2/08 22:12, Anonymous davey said...

There is definitely beauty in simplicity...and ACT is no exception as it contains the powerful truth of what it is to live life with Christ. The Christian life is, in fact, a very simple thing...Christ living in me and through me.

I had the incredible privilege of going to an AA meeting this evening, an organization that has its roots firmly founded in Christ. And, although I've never before heard that many 'f-bombs' under the roof of a church, the stories of transformation were powerful enough to bring anyone to tears. What's more, each life-changing story had all of the ACT components, Accepting the reality of their alcoholism, Confessing their inability to conquer it on their own, and Thankfulness to the group (and often to God).

Sure many of the people at that meeting were not believers, and would credit their life-change to a variety of sources. But I came out of it very challenged and encouraged to not only admit my outstanding need for Christ, but to absolutely embrace my inability to do anything apart from Him.

May there never cease to be less of me, and more of Him.


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