I can always count on a deep theological conversation when my father-in-law visits. I admire Stan for keeping his mind sharp in his retirement years by constantly asking what Karyn and I are reading, borrowing the books for himself (like Jack Deere’s Surprised By the Power of the Spirit), and then, upon returning them, engaging me in a conversation of what he’s learned.
Lately, we’ve been discussing the dearth of teaching in the Church on the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life–His critical role to help us have the strength and authority to become mature and like Christ ourselves. I think we’re often afraid or uncomfortable with the more miraculous gifts of the Spirit: miracles, healing, speaking in tongues, words of prophecy, because we may have grown up in churches that act as if the Spirit simply doesn’t operate that way anymore. And because we don’t see them or, in this case, Him, we assume the Holy Spirit doesn’t do these things today.
Too often, our human experience trumps Scriptural teaching.
The Alliance’s beliefs on the Holy Spirit’s very active role in the life of the believer and the Church are some of the most defining aspects of our denomination’s history and theology.
This past Sunday, James Grout shared an important message on Blanchard Alliance Church’s Identity Series at Warrenville from 2 Cor 5:17-21, reminding us of Paul’s words that anyone who is “in Christ” is a new creation. And, as a result of being made new, Christ in us calls us all into a life as “missionaries”–ambassadors of reconciliation.
This identity transformation is so remarkable, says Paul, that Christ makes his appeal to the world to be reconciled to Christ through us as his missionaries–that those of us “in Christ” have become the righteousness of Christ to the world.
Really? I wish this statement more honestly described not only me but the Church as well. Why is it so hard to stay centered in our identities in Christ?
I believe practicing the presence of the infilling Holy Spirit in my everyday life is critical to growing mature as a believer in Jesus and my commitment to being an “everyday missionary”. How do we do that? Paul tells us to “be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18) That’s why D.L. Moody once warned in a sermon that we’re all like “leaky [buckets]”:
“…we have to keep right under the fountain all the time to keep full of Christ, and so have a fresh supply. I believe this is a mistake a great many of us are making; we are trying to do God’s work with the grace God gave us ten years ago. We say, if it is necessary, we will go on with the same grace. Now, what we want is a fresh supply, a fresh anointing and fresh power, and if we seek it, and seek it with all our hearts, we will obtain it.”
Read the Moody’s full sermon transcript here. It’s worth the time.
As James continued to share what it means to find his own identity in Christ as a missionary, I’m reminded of the value of sharing our story of when we as Christians chose to follow Jesus. Chad Smith from our District Office often sends out e-mails with links from different resources he’s found online that he thinks will be helpful to us as church leaders. This week, he sent a link to Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church with a whole series of video stories of Christians sharing how they chose to become followers of Jesus.
They’re all worth watching, but I think this story about an actress named Ellie Ellsworth is especially apropos as I think about my identity in Christ. Listen to how she found everything she had been looking for in life–after years of searching–in the love and presence of Christ.