FROM THE 'DEEP' END: You can get good help these days
If you’ve never been to church, or don’t go to church because it can weird you out, believe me when I say that I’ve been there. I didn’t grow up in church and when my wife and I first got married she would invite me to go to church with her. Most of the time I made sure I had something else I needed to do, but one Sunday she finally got me there and it turned out I was right. It was super weird. She took me to a very “Charismatic” church where people were waving flags, dancing in the aisles and speaking in tongues. People were praying everywhere, including my wife, and I knew she was praying for me to come to know God.
The pastor on stage was picking people out of the crowd, telling them what they were praying for and answering their prayer Looking around at all this weird stuff happening around me I said, “God, if you’re real, answer her prayer through him.” Right then the pastor on stage asked my wife to stand up and told her that she would see exceedingly and abundantly more than what she could ask for. Right then I knew that God was real and a few months later I became a Christ follower.
After I became a Christ follower, I learned how it was that the pastor could stand up there and tell people how God was going to answer their prayer. It was through the Holy Spirit. People start to roll their eyes and get a little spooked when you talk about the Holy Spirit, and I don’t blame them. Even the name sounds weird, but Jesus and the apostle Paul gave us an explanation of who the Holy Spirit is and what it means to be “filled” with Him.
First, let’s look at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. Before He was betrayed and crucified, Jesus explained to His disciples in John 16:7 why it’s better that He leave them.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for it I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I depart, I will send him to you.”
What Jesus is saying is that once He was gone the Holy Spirit, or “the Helper,” would come and could be with them. The Greek word used here for helper literally means to walk alongside. He’s saying that the Holy Spirit would be there to walk alongside anyone who asked. While Jesus walked the earth, He could only be in one place at a time. The Holy Spirit came so that God could “walk beside” us all and empower us to live in Truth like Jesus. At the beginning of Acts, before Jesus ascends into Heaven, He tells His disciples about the Holy Sprit again. In Acts 1:8 He says,
“But your will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
So the same power that Jesus had while He was on earth, healing the sick, raising the dead, is available through the Holy Spirit.
Later on the Apostle Paul, in a letter to a church in Corinth, brings some important context that makes all of this so important. We can imagine the church being a lot like that Charismatic church I went to with my wife. There was a lot of weird stuff happening and people were turning away from the church. Paul reminded them of the other characteristic of the Holy Spirit that had been forgotten, and that was love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about how all these gifts of the Holy Spirit are worthless without the love that He also provides us. In 13:2 Paul says,
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
The Holy Spirit can sound spooky to us sometimes, but when we dive into who the Spirit is, we can see that God sent Him to us so that we can live our lives more like Jesus — with power and love.
Pastor Eric Partin is the lead pastor of Shoreline Church in Destin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.