Wednesday, April 02, 2008
A Rockin' Revival
Do you ever get afraid of what living would be like if you offered your life to the Holy Spirit? Yes? Me, too. In fact, that bothersome fear has kept me from the delight of life by the Spirit—the new normal for all those born of the Spirit—and led me to living by the flesh. Living by the flesh simply means following the suggestions of your unregenerate inner thinker of how to navigate your days without knowing God. It’s life by logic or rationale, life by passion or lack of it. In any case, it’s the attempt to live well without doing whatever it takes to believe and know God.
God is life, but the attempt to live without Him is still tempting. After all, knowing Him and loving Him and having that all reciprocated can be messy. For real.
I was reading today in Acts 7 about Stephen’s experiences with God. Specifically, his experience with living filled by the Spirit. Chatting with Jewish men committed to life without the Spirit, Stephen says,
You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it. (Acts 7:51-53)
Well, that little sermon goes over just great. Stephen had to have known that would tick 'em off, right? And here’s the dangerous part. Whether Stephen knew how they would react or not, he was living filled with the Spirit! And look what happens—
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:54-56)
So the lesson here is that if you really want to live by the Spirit, you’re going to see the glory of God! It’s true. You’re going to know God in a way that produces awe and amazement and infatuation in you. There is nothing better. And the result? It might not be to your immediate comfort.
At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. (Acts 7:57, 58a)
What happened after that little Spirit-filled-life event? The church was persecuted in a new and terrible way, which caused believers to scatter. . .and preach the gospel wherever they went! A sort of rockin’ revival. And in a delicious bit of irony, the primary persecutor of that day would also one day be filled with the Spirit—to his delight and to his peril—the soon to become apostle Paul.
Life by the Spirit means delight and it means peril. But I’ve never found anything better. Nothing even close. So, I want to get over my fleshly, uncomfortable fears, and live by the Spirit—day after day, rockin’ revival or no. It’s worth it.