All of us want a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. We want to be free from being defined, having our worth and our significance derived from what we do or accomplish. We want to be free from the busyness and stress, the daily grind of seeking purpose and fulfillment, only to end up repeatedly exhausted and burnt out. We want to be free to try and to fail in order to learn and to grow. We want to be free to truly love and be loved without agenda or condition.
Last week, through Paul’s words to the church in Galatia, we discovered such freedom is not a fantasy we can only wistfully dream about. It is the very freedom we have through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This freedom borne of nothing but the grace of God is actualized in our lives through our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The good news of our salvation is that it does not end with the Cross and the Resurrection – the forgiveness of our sin and the promise of life beyond death. The Gospel includes the miracle of Pentecost – the coming of the person of the Holy Spirit. In the coming of Christ, God reveals He is with us and for us. With the giving of the Spirit, God in Christ purposes to be both in us – shaping and transforming us – and to work through us, reaching out and extending eternal life to others.
Again and again, the writers of the New Testament speak of our being “in Christ,” and Christ being in us. We can follow Jesus closely because our God is not an occasional visitor in our lives. The Lord is a permanent dweller – for the Spirit of God has come to live in those who believe in Jesus. Through the Spirit, the risen Christ has taken up residence within us. Through the filling of the Spirit, we are directed and guided through the Word, encouraged and strengthened with gifts, and enabled to bear fruit – to develop and reflect to others the character of Christ.
This Christian life is not something we can live primarily through human effort. The work of the Spirit is not contingent upon us doing our part or trying harder. God does not help those who help themselves. Trying to live out of this belief is not only a subversion, a denial of the grace of God, it also leaves us in a state of perpetual entrapment, hopelessness, exhaustion, and self-condemnation.
We don’t need to go pleading to the Lord for more of the transforming presence and power of the Holy Spirit lives who in all who follow Jesus. The only response that is needed is to abide – to be filled by the Spirit– to daily yield our thoughts, our feelings, our will and our actions to the leading of Christ in us. Out of this posture of being comes our doing. Out of this posture we live out of the freedom that is ours through the Gospel. Every day can be an exciting adventure for the Christian who knows the reality of being filled with the Holy Spirit and who lives constantly, moment by moment, under His gracious direction.
Join us this weekend as we conclude this sermon series by offering some final reflections on the Holy Spirit. This Sunday’s message will be unique as the sermon will be presented as more of a dialogue – a conversation between Pastor Jon and myself with the community. We will each briefly share what has impacted us the most over these last few weeks in exploring the role and work of the Holy Spirit. Then we will take some time to answer any lingering questions you may still have. We both look forward to sharing with you as well as talking with you!