Thursday, November 3, 2016

Great balls of fire! Holy change is a-comin’!

It's amusing to watch Christians just say no to change by invoking the Holy Spirit.

“Well, that sounds like a good idea,” Brother This-is-how-we’ve-always-done-it intones, “I guess.  But we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance before we rush into anything new.”

“Amen!” enthuses Sister Longtime-in-the-way.

The great irony of stonewalling change by pointing to the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit is the greatest, all-time, radical change agent.

When the Holy Spirit blows in, nothing remains the same. Nothing.

Paul, describing the transformative power of the Holy Spirit says, “Behold, the old is gone. All things are new!”

All things. New.

I’m guessing that the appeal to the Holy Spirit as a block to change comes from a misunderstanding as to what we're dealing with. Or rather, Who we're dealing with.

The Holy Spirit is not an “it” or a feeling or a shot of spiritual caffeine.

The Holy Spirit is a person. He is one of the big three-in-one. Remember the Trinity? You know, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?

A lot of Christians, as they settle into their sedate Christian walk, begin to view the Holy Spirit as some kind of gentle giant. A nice “force” to be with you as you journey through life. A sweet secret prayer language. A spiritual lucky rabbit’s foot in your pocket. A subtle suggestion from the proverbial good angel on your shoulder. A feeling or twinge of conscience to keep you on the straight and narrow.

All of these ideas are wrong.

When the Holy Spirit was first officially ushered into the lives of believers, there was nothing gentle or subtle about the event. Go read Acts 2. It went down like this:

  • First, there was the sound of a mighty -- violent -- rushing wind. There was nothing gentle or breezy about it. Think tornado.
  • Next, balls of fire that appeared as tongues landed on everyone’s head. Great balls of fire! On their heads!
  • Then, they all began speaking in foreign languages -- languages they were not schooled in and did not speak before this.* They were apparently a little loud, too, as people around the neighborhood came running to see what was happening. A lot of people.
  •  Finally, empowered with this freshly poured out Spirit, Peter preaches a powerful sermon that cuts the hearers to the quick with conviction -- it splits their hearts wide open. As a result, about 3,000 of these bystanders became believers. Three thousand! And nothing has been the same since.
So, the next time a new idea pops up in church, you may not want to defend against the change being proposed by suggesting everyone checks in with the Holy Spirit first. You may get exactly what you don’t want and weren’t expecting.

In fact, if you’re sensing the need for change in your life, in your church, or in your world, the best thing you can do is invoke the Holy Spirit.

Change will come. In a really big way. Because the Holy Spirit is a really big, really noisy, really powerful Guy.

What’s new with you? Anything? What about in your church? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is active in a church or a life where nothing new happens? How do you view the Holy Spirit? How do you engage with the Holy Spirit in your daily Christian walk? Please share your thoughts and differing opinions in the comments!

* Some will argue that the speakers all spoke in their own languages and those hearing heard in their own languages. That doesn’t dampen the power that was present. Regardless of how it happened, it was a very big, very radical deal.

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