Summary: Canada’s Olympic glory gives a picture of God’s will - the fullness of His Spirit, the Joy of God , so how can we get in on it.
How to be Spirit-filled
Team Canada’s gold medal win in Salt Lake City Olympics has spread a spirit of patriotism. Waves of red and white all over the country, coast to coast. Spontaneous singing, outburst of shouts of triumph, joy and celebration! Some say declare a holiday in Feb. to commemorate this occasion of national joy! That’s the picture I want u to not forget. Because that’s what is intended to happen to God’s people everywhere. God won for us the victory through Jesus! He has got a decisive victory. It is not tainted by subjective judging and illegal doping scandal, because it was won through something much more scandalous, the death of a loving God, the blood of Christ, and the power of His resurrection, rising up to life. So 5:19-20 spontaneous songs and thanksgiving, coming out of the rafters among God’s people, is the picture of NT Christianity! Filled with Spirit, with waves of joy from coast to coast, singing shouts of joy!!
Reality is as u go to churches, few celebrate God this way. Little of this joy is seen, felt or heard. The joy of God is not their strength! And perceived by many and rightly- Christian life is dull and not filled with life, aimless, good only as a great crutch for emergency use when we need to bury and marry.
Part of this is because we swallowed some harmful myths about real Christian growth…
A. Myths about Spiritual Growth
1. Auto-pilot growth: It is automatic once you become a Christian. Not so! Gotta be intentional: need to decide to grow, and make an effort to grow. Otherwise instruction in 4:1—3 makes little sense, which speaks of effort, 4:11-12, about God’s appointed people to prepare God’s people for service, 4:15,16 “growing up into him... as each part does its work” or putting on “the new self.” Imagery of “marathon” (Heb.12:1,2; 1 Cor.9:24-27) works better, much more biblical! Effort, we sigh, too hard?? Knock the joy right off eh? But do marathon racers say it is too hard, they take it with joy knowing the reward.
2. Attainable for select few: Any believer can grow to maturity if there is the training for the marathon race! It is not just for the Mother Teresa, Billy Graham types. Staying in shape spiritually, requires us to breakdown practical everyday habits – such as worship, fellowship, stewardship, discipleship which we all can do. Expectation in the Bible “”we all reach unity in the faith… AND BECOME MATURE” (4:13)
3. Attendance: Attend the right seminar, conference, church service, i.e. looking for the right key, right book, right tape, CD, video, right class, website, right teachers, list goes on – let’s get it right here – it’s a futile search. There are no short-cuts to spiritual growth, just as our kids cannot escape the trials of teenage life and skip to their 20’s and 30’s. There is a gradual process of growing “up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
4. Academics: It is not about how many theological degrees you hold! Many evaluate spirituality by how well u can ID bible characters, Locate a book in the Bible, quote verses, explain theology, interpret the tough parts. Truth is it more about life - behavior, fruit of the Spirit, rather than mere fruit of your merit. That is why 4:17-6:9 speaks so much of behaviour or life management as a child of God (anger, unwholesome talk, sex). Conduct and character, not memorized rigid lifeless rules, creeds that is much more needed. Thank God, cuz I failed miserably in high school!
5. American legend/myth: Macho types, John Wayne, Rambo, Schwarznegger, glorifies the rugged individualism of the West. Need nobody types, just gimme my horse, gun, leave me alone! This has crept into Christianity – so we don’t need other Christians? Completely ignores the picture of the bible – Godd’s purpose for the church 3:10, one body, one Lord, faith, baptism 4:4-5, submission to another 5:19-21, praying for ALL the saints 5:18.
6. “All you need is the Bible to grow”. We need all kinds of experiences, with others in the church, ministry, worship, fellowship, mission. Let’s not be arrogant here! Classroom stuff must relate to real life, or it stays there in the classroom. Need to be careful to make most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
The first-step to being led of the Spirit of God and filled with Him is to discard the myths that has infiltrated into our lives.
B. Understanding the Spirit’s influence
1) There is a superficial similarity.
Remember at Pentecost, Acts 2:12-17 (NIV)
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine. "
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.