For almost 30 years, I have carried my grandfather’s obituary folded up in my wallet. He was a remark-able man, and that little slip of paper, tucked behind my driver’s license, reminds me of him and how his life impacted mine. I haven’t read the obituary in years, but I know it’s there. Maybe it’s time to read it again.
Sometimes, we treat the Holy Spirit like that. We tuck away God’s priceless gift in some back corner of our hearts, finding comfort in the knowledge that God’s presence is right here with us, but rarely inviting the Spirit out to impact our lives. Maybe it’s time to let the Spirit out.
You know who the Holy Spirit is, right?. The third person of the Trinity is the active, living presence of God manifest in the lives of Jesus’ followers. Jesus called the Spirit the Advocate and the Spirit of Truth. In Acts, He is known as the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), that is, the presence of our Savior at work in the hearts of His followers.
The Spirit dwells within every follower of Jesus, guiding, comforting and empowering us to serve Je-sus’ mission. The Spirit moves in our hearts with the same power that created the world, divided the Red Sea, inspired the writing of scripture and raised Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit is God, in every way. And the Spirit lives in your heart.
Which is why we should strongly consider letting the Spirit out, rather than hiding Him away.
The first two Sundays of July, I will preach on the Holy Spirit, focusing on how the Spirit guides us in righteous living (Galatians 5:16-25) and how the Spirit leads the church toward unity (Ephesians 4:1-6).
The truth is, we can ignore the Spirit in both of these areas. We can keep the Spirit folded up in our hearts, listening to the world rather than God’s voice, going our own way instead of letting the Spirit lead. In the church, we can pursue self-seeking agendas while stepping over the needs of our brothers and sisters. The Spirit doesn’t force us to follow His wisdom or accept His power.
We can keep the Spirit folded away, but why would we?
The Spirit offers to lead us along life’s challenging way, just as God’s glorious manifestation in the pil-lar of cloud and fire led the Israelite’s through the wilderness. We can’t see the Spirit hovering in front of our eyes, but if we listen with our souls, He speaks clearly as we pray, read God’s word and learn from other be-lievers. Letting the Spirit guide us keeps us away from sin and out of spiritual trouble. Even better, following the Spirit helps us to become more like Jesus in word, action and attitude.
The Spirit also works within each of us to build unity and loving fellowship in the church. If I listen to the Spirit and you listen to the Spirit, surely He will direct us in consistent, Christ-honoring ways, sending us all in the same direction. Unity in the church is not the result of everyone just agreeing to get along; it’s the fruit of each person listening to the Spirit’s harmonious voice of truth. As we move together in the direction the Spirit leads, the church will always produce life-changing ministry.
The Holy Spirit enables us to accomplish extraordinary things in pursuit of God’s Kingdom. Without the Spirit, we remain weak and divided, but with the Spirit, God can do mighty things through us. It’s time to remember who lives in our hearts.