We Need Constant Spirit-Filling

Pre-Pentecost, how would we describe the first followers of Jesus?  Honestly—

Peter, brash, proud, thinking he can do it all on his own… James and John vying for the best seats in the house; Thomas, unwilling to trust his closest friends; none of them doing so well with children, or hospitality (“send them away”)…Paul hurting people because they don’t believe the same as he does… let’s face it, the first followers weren’t exactly relational role models!

But the coming of the Spirit changes that…

Young and old, male and female dream dreams and prophecy!

Believers of all shapes and sizes are together and have everything in common…

Peter comes alongside an unclean centurion, Cornelius…

Philip befriends an Ethiopian Eunuch…

God has been changing lives since the beginning of time and especially since the coming of His Son, who died and rose again in order to bring life in the Spirit to all who believe–  But this being born anew into the kingdom as Jesus describes it,  is not what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 5 when he says be filled with the Spirit.   This is something more, something different, after the filling that continues to sanctify, assure and empower us.

Once we were dry river beds— They call them wash’s in the South Western USA.  When we were there a few years ago, we drove over many bridges that traversed not water but hot, dry sand gullies with names like Coyote Wash.  They were winding tracks through deserts of cactus, tumble weed, red rock and sand baking in the 110 degree sunshine– BUT with the potential, if water ever came, to channel it well.  Maybe you have never been so baked, dry and hardened, yet in a sense all of us start that way, needing and made for water, living water.   And unlike New Mexican wash’s that seem to be content just the way they are, we are not satisfied with being empty, we need to and long to be filled…

And it happens!  When we believe and receive Jesus, the Spirit comes and does her work of cleansing and salvation filling.  And we are full- full of joy and peace in believing!  Full of the Holy Spirit— inspired by our right relationship with God to be in right, true, full relationship with our neighbours!

We are like a newly dug and filled water hole- fresh and blue, nurturing life all around us.    However, as anyone with a pond will tell you, even nice, newly filled ponds, eventually become slimy, decaying and stagnant if they have no continuous source of fresh water—if they are not constantly being filled.   When water just sits there, the pond becomes less and less desirable, the water less and less healthy….   I wonder if that ever happens to believers… to the church… Could believers ever become stagnant like inert sloughs?   I wonder…

Jesus said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ John 7:38.  A river, unlike a torpid pond teems with vigor and vitality!  A river is always moving, constantly being filled and continually pouring out.   Ever swum or white-water-rafted in a rushing river?  We waded in such a river in a Hawaiian jungle when we went to visit my cousin (I know nice place to have a cousin!).  We sat under the rocks and felt the rush of what they claim to be the freshest, cleanest water in the world,  pouring over our heads and bodies–It was so invigorating, life giving!  And the desire and the need for such filling and flowing is in our blood – when we don’t have it, when we’re not being filled anew, we find ourselves dying rather than living– That’s why Paul commands us to be filled–constantly, continually, — the word means an ongoing filling…

The trouble is that some of us try to fill ourselves up with the wrong stuff…. from addictions to technology to entertainment to crystals and charms to success, popularity, more stuff…

But the only thing that really satisfies our thirst, fills us to overflowing… is the water that the gap was made for… the Spirit of the triune God…

Perhaps that’s why in Acts 2 when the Spirit descends on the believers at Pentecost, we and all around are awestruck–  Spirit filling leads to authentic, deep and embracing community; to life in the fullest, togiving and giving; and the more it gives, the more it is filled!  Spirit filling is ‘other’ focused versus ‘self’ focused…. it’s all about essential relationship.

So how then can we be like a river?  How are we to be constantly filled with THE Spirit?  It’s not easy.  I don’t always feel spiritual.  I sometimes forget to ask for the Spirit’s filling each morning in my rush to do things.  I don’t always hear or obey the Spirit’s prompting to raise a spiritual question or respond to a need or take time for a neighbour.  I’m not always in the mood for “singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”… or for giving thanks … of for being wise and thoughtful about how I live…  I’m more of a wash or wash out or a thirsty pond.

I said it’s not easy.  But maybe it is and that’s what makes it so difficult.  We live in a “just do it’ society but Jesus says – just be in Me.  Jesus says, just—Come—as you are–  to me all you who are thirsty and I will give you drink… John 4: 13,14.  It’s not a matter of doing, it’s a matter of receiving.  It’s not a matter of getting, it’s a matter of being connected to the Source—  not to the corporate ladder, or the life of the party, or the workout queen or the meditation guru … because  “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again…  they won’t be able to keep themselves filled — but those who drink of the water that I, Jesus, give, will never be thirsty.

The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” for the sake of the world, for the sake of our neighbours.

— [Image by Mike Tungate, CC via Flickr]

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