Woke up with this song in my head. We had sung it in church on Sunday, and I had found myself singing it with meaning, singing it as a sincere prayer because of being very conscious of my need.
But I know that there have been times, in the distant past, when I got sort of hooked on the nice feeling, the excitement, the buzz, and forgot what it was really all about. The feeling of being filled with the Spirit – it’s a great feeling, but that’s not the point, God gives us his Spirit to empower us to do stuff for his Kingdom, to enable us to live in a way that will bring glory to him – whether it’s telling people the good news of salvation through Jesus, or showing people God’s love, being loving when someone treats you badly, behaving with humility when our fallen nature demands that we stand for our pride, resisting temptation in all its myriad manifestations, putting God first and trusting him, behaving selflessly instead of selfishly, etc etc… to do any of this, I need God’s Spirit.
Jesus told us that we are to ask and then of course our loving Father in heaven will give us his Spirit. James talks about asking and not receiving because we ask for the wrong motives. I know very well that there have been times when I have wanted to be filled with the Spirit for the wrong motives – wanting the buzz, like an addict looking for his next fix. And I sometimes hear fellow believers talk like that, as though that’s what it’s about – the great feeling. But we’re not talking about magic mushrooms or something to smoke that will make you feel great, yeah. We’re talking, as that song says, about the Spirit of the living God!
And I am taken back to the teaching I received on this subject a long time ago, when I first experienced it – I remember how it was stressed to us that there are good reasons to ask for this and less good reasons, and that God will honour our request if we are asking for the right reasons, if we are asking him to equip us for serving him. At the time, at that particular moment, I really was wanting to serve God, and I sincerely asked and he honoured my request, and the immediate result was that I floated home from that meeting (no, not literally, it’s just how it felt) and shocked both myself and my house mate by telling her that I’m sorry for all the times I’d been nasty to her. So, be careful what you ask for – God’s Spirit in you means profound change, not just feeling like you’re floating.
But later on, pride crept in – the feeling that I’m one of the cool gang, one of those who have got it. I started looking down on others in my church who didn’t seem to have got to that stage – not realising that actually some of these people may have been at a much more advanced stage in their faith in ways that I couldn’t even begin to grasp, not realising that different people have a different walk with God, he teaches us stuff not necessarily in a particular order, his syllabus is very flexible. And who am I to judge another man’s servant?
So now my prayer is: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, not for the nice warm feeling but so that I will have the grace to live a life that will glorify God. And please protect me from my stupid pride.
here endeth the rambling. this is not a fully-formed essay on the subject of being filled with the Spirit, just thoughts off the top of my head, as they come.