May 20 Pentecost
Although they differ in the way they put it, both John and Luke tell us that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples to enable them to continue the work of Jesus (John 20:22-23; Acts 2:1-4). The driving force for the Church then is God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit that was in Jesus himself. Where then do we see the Spirit working in the Church today? If we use the ‘by their fruits you shall know them’ test, we are reminded of Galatians 5:22 where the fruits of the Spirit are listed as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Do you see these in the members of your congregation? Are they apparent in church meetings and in our social interaction? On the basis of Scripture and experience, we can also say that the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is made evident in changed lives, in people coming to live by faith in Jesus and in growing and maturing in that faith, in healing, in a willingness to share the good news about Jesus to others. Wherever self-giving love exists there we see evidence of the Spirit’s presence. Yes, there are also the signs of inner conviction, ‘the heart strangely warmed’, a deep and abiding peace, excitement and joy, ecstasy and wonder. But the Spirit also leads to service and sacrifice, acts of compassion, the giving of oneself to the well-being of the community, the seeking of peace and justice in the world. The Spirit is the spirit of unity, bonding Christians to one another and effecting reconciliation wherever there is discord or alienation. The Spirit leads us to pray and to worship in spirit and in truth. Don’t think for a moment that the Spirit is confined to working within the confines of the Church, but the Church is the one community whose authority and power comes solely from the Holy Spirit, and the only way for the Church to outlive the current swing against it is to be more evidently the people of the Holy Spirit.
- If the driving force for the Church is the Holy Spirit, what other forces are at work influencing the Church and its activity?
- As far as you are concerned, what are the main signs of the Holy Spirit working in the Church and where do you see those signs?
- How have you experienced God’s Spirit in your life?
- In 1 John 4:1-6 we read, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How are we to do this?