Power From on High
If we are to exercise the authority given to us, we must also be empowered. God has not left us bereft of His presence. He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon us that we might be enabled to fulfill the commissions that He has sent us to do in His Name. The word associated with Holy Spirit is dunamis. It is the Greek word from which we derive power sources such as dynamite and dynamo.
If we see Jesus as the Word of God, we are to see Holy Spirit as the breath of God. Holy Spirit is not simply a whitish oblong blur, like Casper the friendly ghost. He is not a spirit generated by a team, like the esprit de corp. He is God breathing life and power into His people, and through His people into those to whom we are sent. In one sense He becomes like an esprit de corp. He draws together a variety of people into a Body. We must note that it is not the people who generate the spirit, but the Spirit who draws the people.
Holy Spirit has been sent to do one thing, and one thing alone. He has come to incarnate Jesus in those who are willing to become the children of God. John's record of Jesus teaching about Holy Spirit sets the order. "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all Truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will declare to you things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you." Jn 16:12ff
The focus of Holy Spirit will be on Jesus. The reason for that is Jesus is the One through Whom Father has revealed Himself. "In Him the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell." Col 1:19 The flow of the Trinity is clearly to be seen and preserved. Holy Spirit is not a whole new ball game. He is the fulfillment of the game that was started in the Old Creation, and He comes to lead us through both the Old as we are on our way out, and into the New which we seek to enter in Christ Jesus.
Holy Spirit gets a lot of bad PR from those who would run the church. He just will not behave any better than Jesus behaved for the Sanhedrin. He also takes a lot of blame for things we do in the flesh and blame on the Spirit. The one reason for His presence is to incarnate Jesus in our flesh, that we might be His presence for those to whom we are sent.
He comes to ask us three questions. Are you willing to be led? Are you willing to be changed? Are you willing to be used? Those are three questions that have to do with the way in which Jesus is to be formed in us, that we might have His authority. He is to be formed in us by Holy Spirit, that we might have God power rather than mere will power. If we elect to follow the Law, we must do the work with will power. If we are to live by grace, we will need Spirit power.
LED BY THE SPIRIT
We are no longer in a position to decide what is good and evil. That is the capacity that got us into trouble in the first place. We have the capacity to know good and evil; but it is God who is able to supply the information that we need to do good and shun evil. It is not simply a matter of knowing what the Law says. Even when we know the Law, we cannot do it because we are not enabled to live out our interpretation of the Law. We are enabled to live out God's interpretation of the Law.
Paul writes, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Rm 8:14ff
We might say that Holy Spirit comes to interpret the Law in the concrete circumstances of our lives. As we walk in the Spirit, we avoid the pitfalls of our own interpretation of the Law which may be in conflict with God's. He comes to incarnate in us the relationship that is between Jesus and Abba.
When Jesus taught, He made it clear that the words He spoke were not His words but the words of the One who had sent Him. The work that He did were not His own idea. He only did what He saw the Father doing. The crucial example of this reality in the ministry of Jesus came right after He had been baptized and had received Holy Spirit. He was led out into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
As we wrote in the previous chapter, each temptation was a temptation to do God's work with the world's wisdom. That is insufficient to manifest the Kingdom of God. Radical obedience is required by an absolute Monarch. It is not as if there has been no provision made for the guidance in our lives. Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God, and the Spirit of Truth has come. Are you willing to be led?
Being led by the Spirit rests on two primary decisions. Do you believe God can be known? Are you willing to grow in your relationship with Him through prayer? Are you willing to spend the time and energy to learn to listen to Holy Spirit as He speaks to us that He might lead us into all truth?
CHANGED BY THE SPIRIT
The second question He will ask is, "Are you willing to be changed?" That is a question that literally asks if we are willing to give up our own characteristics, and put on Jesus Christ. Paul writes about that change in Galatians. "Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh....but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, humility and self-control." Gal 5:19,22
Traditional teaching on Sin tells us that there are seven deadly sins. Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony and Lust. They seem to be the normal sources of motivation in humanity. Though we do not like to consider humanity as born in Sin, and helplessly bogged down in the bondage that results, few of us are willing to say that humanity is truly a virtuous group of people with a few derelict persons to spoil the barrel.
Pride sets us over against God. It is that sense within us that we are in control of the universe; and in the final analysis we do not need God. We will shape the world up in our own wisdom and in our own strength. The great malady that results from pride is the isolation from others by virtue of our pride. We desire to take the credit for the good that we see, and blame the bad on someone else. There is nothing more prevalent in our humanistic culture, and especially in the area of seeing ourselves as victims.
As soon as I see that I have been handicapped by my parents, or by my social status, or by my economic status; I am exonerated, and those at fault are deprecated. If only I had been reared in the right family, I would have been successful. If only I had not been poor, or born in the wrong neighborhood, I would have been all right. The fact is that I was not. I despise myself. I despise my parents, and I despise the world. I am a victim of those who tell me that I need a good self image.
While there are some who have not fallen prey to the negative side of pride, they seem to feel that they are superior to the rest of the world. I recall when I was a young boy living in the poverty of the depression in a family of teachers. We were po', but we were proud. We knew what was best for the world, and as soon as the world adopted our prejudices (which we called education) all would be well.
The nature of this kind of pride may be seen in the benevolent treatment of other people by those who would see themselves as the intelligencia. They are the messiahs of this ages. They always know more about what you need than you do. They remind me very much of my life as a child in which I concluded, that when people cannot manage their own lives, they set themselves to manage someone else's. They seek to live vicariously in other people whose lives they can straighten out and accept.
Envy is a Sin that sets me over against my neighbor, or friend, or brother, or just anyone who has something I want and don't have. Just as Pride sets me over against God, and thus separates me from him; envy sets me over against my neighbor and separates me from him. It used to be seen in the old "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude. It lies at the root of most advertising campaigns. It stirs up dissatisfaction with who I am and what I have.
Anger, which spawns unforgiveness and resentment, is an outgrowth of my sitting in God's seat to judge others. The trigger for anger is normally some thwarted expectation. Someone has done something I did not expect, or they have not done something I did expect. It rises almost in proportion to my insecurity about being right, and demanding that I and others meet some minimum standard of behavior.
I recall hearing Jim Glennon say, "The demon in anger and unforgiveness and resentment is that they are always justified." I recall another definitive statement by the old priest who packed me off to seminary, "You get angry; I have righteous indignation." It is very difficult to deal with that Sin within us that is justified, and so we generally let it deal with us.
There are some who would say that anger is good. To support their claim, they would quote Ephesians, "Be angry but do not sin," Eph 5:26 They do not bother reading the end of the passage, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 5:31-2
I know of no expression of emotion that will separate you from your friends or family any quicker than anger; and one of the tragedies is the fact that it dumps toxins into your cardiovascular system. It lies at the root of one of the most destructive stress factors that we can encounter in the world.
Sloth is normally seen as laziness, but it also includes disorder in our lives. It lies at the root of our procrastination. It is watching TV when there are lessons to be done. It is playing computer games when there is word processing to be done. It is working crossword puzzles when there is reading to be done. It is the disorder that leads us to neglect the vocation to which we have been sent by God. It is even the neglect of prayer that might lead us to overcome the disorder in our lives. It leaves us with a sense of worthlessness, which can easily lead to despair and depression.
Avarice is greed. It is a self-centeredness that wants things for the sake of the things. It cares little for others, or even our own need. It just wants more of whatever it wants. It would be an error to believe that it is confined to the ultra-rich who continue to accumulate wealth. It is just as prevalent in the people who condemn them. There are probably more economically deprived people who worship money in our culture than there are rich self-centered people, if for no other reason that there is just not enough wealth for everyone to have an abundance. Yet most believe money would "fix" their lives.
Gluttony is normally seen as overeating, but it is also over-indulgence in any other of the body's desires. Gluttony is the Sin of considering the desires of the body as needs, and food as the filling of that need. It is a matter of idolatry that puts food in the place of God. Their fondest hope is to find the most succulent food with which to indulge their appetites
There are many who follow strict diets who are in some sense gluttons. Their decisions are made relative to food and not God. Their focus is on their bodies. They are similar to reformed smokers. They will insist that everyone follow their lead to health foods or to some vitamin or herbal regimen that will extend their lives, and give them new vigor.
Let me hasten to add that eating good nutritious food is not sinful, it is good stewardship. It is the focus of one's life on eating that constitutes the Sin. It is using the food as messiah that excludes the grace of God and tends to rest our life on one of the gifts that He has given us.
Lust, strangely enough, is not simply a craving for sex. It is the compulsion to possess someone or something. It is the drive to possess and use another person, and may well find its drive in a grasp for power as much as sex. It is likely the Sin which seems to turn our quest for intimacy into futility instead of peace and joy in the overcoming of the separation in which we are born.
Sin separates us first from God, then from ourselves, then from one another. God's way of dealing with it in our lives is through recreating us as new creatures. When we are willing to give up those things that we have used for motivations through our lives, Holy Spirit will begin to incarnate Jesus' character in us, while those traits Paul calls the works of the flesh are displaced. We are literally changed in substance. The being which had formerly determined our character is changed until we are no longer of the old creation, but the new.
Love is poured into our interior lives so that we are no longer committed to building a kingdom of self, wherein we control the rest of the environment around us. Love comes to cast out fear which besets anyone who is seeking to claim and control any portion of the creation. Love is the antidote for the spiritual toxin of fear. Love does not simply mean that we are loving toward others. It is the sure belief that we are loved by God.
Belief or faith is not a head trip. If we are working in our heads, as when we learned to sing "Jesus Loves Me," we would "think", "God loves me." When we know in our spirit that we are the beloved of God, our knowledge goes beyond our thought or reason. It strikes a chord deep within. Anyone who has known the experience of that shift from mind to heart, knows this to be true. Anyone who has not experienced that shift, cannot understand it.
Joy is the antidote to heaviness and depression. It is not happiness, that is dependent on doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, with the right people. Happiness can be lost in the moment that any one of the elements is removed. The people might not be there, the time might change. When the change occurs, the happiness is lost.
Joy is within, and rests on the sure knowledge that the Lord is there within. When we read the Gospel according to John, we might note that the joy we are promised is connected not so much with our status in the world; but with His status in our lives. "I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." Jn 16:22 This statement is the summation of the many about joy that are found in the fourteenth through the sixteenth chapters of John.
Joy is love toward the pain of the world. Pain without purpose is suffering. Pain with a purpose can become joy, as Jesus points out in the birth of a baby. Pain is the sign of life. There is no pain in death. Joy embraces the pain in the purpose of God so that it might be redeemed and turned to our closer relationship to God, and to His glory.
Peace is the antidote for anxiety and panic and tension that issues from the uncertainties of life. I recall hearing a psychology professor say that anxiety was necessary for us to be motivated to work. He had never known the peace of God which passes understanding. Peace is the difference between our having to control our destiny and our leaving it in the hands of God.
The peace of God is not external. It lies within us. It is our trust that God is in charge and that He is both loving and Almighty. The peace of God is not so much a condition that sees no conflict in the world around it, as an inner condition which enables us to deal with the chaos we see in the world. Peace is, in effect, love toward the chaos of the world. It is love inviting the world into the peace of God which passes understanding.
Patience is love toward the inept of the world, beginning with us. Impatience is the outgrowth of believing that everyone is going to be as good as our knowledge of good and evil says they must be. The truth is that our sinful state of existence keeps even the best of us from living into the ideal that the mind has grasped. When we try to live into the ideal revealed for us in Jesus Christ, we inevitably fall short. We need to be patient with ourselves as well as the rest of the people who fall short.
I recall one of the classes I took in my pursuit of my Masters in Sacred Theology required me to read a book. It was a long book written by a white Russian (as over against a red one), named Nicolai Solovyoff. In it he pointed out that we live in a moral determinism. My initial reaction was, "No way!" As I read what he said, I was able to change that to an, "Amen!" He did not mean that we are robotic. He meant that every one of us will choose what he or she believes will best fulfill their life at any given moment.
That does not mean that we do not know how to live better lives. It means that we are not able to live better lives until we have been given the authority by the inner change of our substance. That is not something I can do for myself. It is something that God must do for me. It is the very essence of my transformation from the likeness of the first Adam to the likeness of the last Adam. Since I am not in control of that change, I must learn to be patient with God.
I was once give a T shirt with a series of letters PBP GIN FWMY. They were set in three lines, one over the other. I immediately saw the GIN and thought it had to have something to do with alcohol. It turned out that they meant Please be patient. God is not finished with me yet. That is the message we must understand. No one is perfect but God alone. While He is recreating us, we need to understand that we cannot expect perfection from ourselves or anyone else.
I have been warned not to pray for patience, or the Lord will send me tribulation. I have learned that without patience, living with people is tribulation. Until I learn to love the inept, I will always be in tribulation. Until I have learned to forgive myself when my ineptness shows, then I will not be able to grow into the wholeness God has intended for me. I am being the best person I am able to be right now, and so are you. By the grace of God, I shall be better able to live out the presence of Jesus in the world, when He has made the next adjustment to my inner nature. I am still in the process of change.
Gentleness is love toward the weak. It does not issue from weakness but from the greatest power in the universe, the love of God. It is love dealing with the weak without fear. It is the fear that seems to issue in tyranny. Gentleness is the antidote for our feeling that we have to deal with people out of a control base that holds enough power to coerce them into doing what we know to be right. It is the antidote for the demand for immediate conformity from those who cannot conform at all until they are enabled.
I recall my first encounter with the charismatic renewal that arose in the late 1950's, and early 1960's. There was a demand by the leadership that everyone conform to the marks of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that the leadership saw to be essential for them. There was no gentleness. There was a "We are right! and where we differ, you must be wrong" attitude. It was oppressive in that it sought to drive people into the Kingdom rather than gently lead them into the Kingdom.
That is not to say that all of the leaders were of this nature. It is to say that was my impression of a lot of the leaders that I encountered. I recognized the attitude well since I was a master at that way of thinking. I am much indebted to them for allowing me to see myself as I saw others. Gentleness grows out of the assurance that you are walking in the presence of God's love, and that He will manage to get us to the goals that He has in mind for us.
Kindness is love toward the needy of the world, and it is the antidote of avarice. It is the love that underlies all stewardship of material things. It sees all things as God's, and it seeks to allow God to use them through us to touch the lives of those who have need. It does not mean that we do good things for other people in whom we perceive need. It means that we act in obedience to God relative to the things He has given us, tangible and intangible, as we minister to the needs of those to whom He sends us.
Kindness is not giving others what they ask of us. It is giving to others what God asks of us. Our knowledge of addiction and codependency makes it clear that we can do as much harm to a person as good, if we give them the things they want without also giving them the enabling power to break with their bondage to need. Buying an alcoholic a drink is not kindness, it is enabling.
Faithfulness is our love toward God. It is the antidote to the insecurity that issues from our effort to depend on ourselves or any other power in the world. There is only One who is faithful. There is only one who is dependable enough to evoke faith in us. It is the love that issues from God's presence in our lives. It is the sure knowledge of His love that enables us to become stable within, and find the integrity for which we have been created. It enables us to find out who we are.
Humility is love toward ourselves. It is the antidote to both the pride and the self hate that mark so many humans. It is the realization that we are not able to do a lot of the things for which we feel guilty. It allows neither a pride of accomplishment, nor the ridicule and rejection of failure. It is the key to allowing us to translate pride into thanksgiving, the realization that God has a hand in all that we do, and without Him, we are able to do nothing.
Humility is that kind of love that enables us to see ourselves honestly, to know ourselves realistically, and to accept ourselves as we are rather than as we feel we ought to be. Humility says, "I can do nothing good in and of myself." That is in accord with the teaching of Jesus about our relationship to Him, "I am the Vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is who bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." The flip side of Christian humility says, "There is nothing that God cannot do through me when I say, 'Yes!'"
This is one of the antidotes to Sloth. It disallows the plea that I am too young, or not wise enough, or not talented enough. It is the love that says, "Whatever you say Lord!" It is the exercise of the faithfulness in the sure knowledge that we ourselves are loved by the one who is faithful. The cry that we need a good self image finds its corrective in a good God image, and we are set free from self condemnation.
The last positive element of the formation as Paul writes of it, is Self control. I do not like that translation because it brings to my mind my experience as a young child whose significant adults used to yell at him, "Sonny, Control yourself!" If I had been able to control myself, I would not have remained in their presence at that time. The truth is that I have never been able to keep my life under the control of my ego. I was told that I needed will power, but I have never seen anyone with that measure of will power. I have been told I need won't power, but I have come to believe that is for those who desire to live under the Law, and justify themselves, rather than live in the grace of God and allow His love to justify them.
I prefer the term, integrity. As I understand what Paul means, it has to do with our being the person God means when He calls us by name. It means that the ego is not "In control," but "under the control" of the Spirit. It means that instead of becoming the person I would like to make myself, I am becoming the person God wills me to be. I am being wrapped up in God's love, inside and out, and being brought into the image and likeness that He has revealed for me in Jesus.
In short, the Fruit of the Spirit is the person of Jesus in the fullness of His love dwelling within us. Are you willing to have the interior furnishing of your being changed from the Sin in which you were born into the righteousness of God? When you are willing to change, are you willing to allow God to work at His pace without your insistence that He adopt your time schedule?
The transformation of being one in whom Christ is formed by Holy Spirit's power is also the increasing authorization of living out the Christian life and mission. It is the continuing change of our interior from flesh to spirit. It is the growth of the one who has been born again of water and Holy Spirit. It is the way we grow into the life of Doing the Truth, of being the presence of Jesus in our flesh, and doing the works that He did, and seeks to continue to do through us.
USED BY THE SPIRIT
The third question Holy Spirit asks, is, "Are you willing to be used?" He does not indicate for what use most of the time. His seeks your permission to incarnate Jesus through you for other people. That is what the gifts of the Spirit are. There is One Spirit, One Lord, One God who does all of the work that we call the gifts of the Spirit. In the final analysis, it is the presence of Jesus working through your flesh.
It is where the authority and the power of God come together. When I am not walking in the presence of God, little happens of a creative nature. I might make some small changes in my exterior behavior patterns, but I will not be changed until I am in some relationship with God. While I may have the authority within me, I will not have the power until I am willing to be used by God.
That does not mean to do the things I want to do for God. There is really nothing I can do for God, except to allow Him to work through me the things that He wills to do. If I am going to work in the power of Holy Spirit, I am going to work with God, not for Him. When I am willing to be used by God, He can impart to me all of the power needed to do the job.
The order in which Paul lists the gifts are the order in which they are used for the calling of a community and equipping it to be the Body of Christ in any given place. The Christian Gospel presupposes the necessity of a community. We were not meant to live alone, but in the Body of Christ. The first ministry that Holy Spirit exercises through some willing person, is that of Jesus calling His people into community.
It is after the community is formed that there is a need for teaching. We have one Teacher, and that is Jesus. When we are willing to be used by Holy Spirit, and we are singled out for that ministry within the Body; it is Jesus who teaches through us. We are literally His presence for the rest of the Body in that capacity of teaching.
As the people of God, we are not to turn to outside sources for knowledge and direction in our lives. God has poured out His Spirit on all flesh and our sons and daughters prophesy. Jesus speaks to us directly through the lips and tongues of those whom He elects to use. Holy Spirit incarnates Jesus through someone to speak to the Body as He is present in their midst. There is not so much a gifted person as a gifted Body.
David duPlessis presented the gifts of the Spirit in a way that I had not heard before; but in a way I believe is helpful to anyone who wants to escape the rigidity of being locked in to some particular gift and ministry. He pointed out that the gifts were given through people for the Body. The gifts are not given to the people but to the Body. When someone prophesies, and I receive the prophecy as from God, then I have received the gift of prophecy.
The same holds true for the rest of the gifts. If someone teaches, he becomes the presence of Jesus Christ for those who receive the teaching. Holy Spirit bestows the gift of teaching on the Body as He incarnates Jesus through the one He has elected to teach. We might say the same with healing, or tongues, or interpretation or discernment.
Holy Spirit gives one gift to the church and that is the gift of the Risen Lord in power, doing through our flesh the works that He did when He wore the flesh that He took from Mary His mother. There is no other gift necessary for the life of the Body. There are a multitude of different forms of the one gift, Jesus Christ, as He ministers to the Body and through the Body to the world.
There is no such limitation as discovering your spiritual gifts so you might find your ministry. It is a matter of discovering the presence of Holy Spirit who desires to minister Jesus Christ through you, as you are willing to be used. There are no limitations on that ministry unless we say, "No!" to Him when He asks.
There are without argument people who are more pliable in the hand of Holy Spirit than others. There are some who find prayer for healing easier than some of the other ministries; but the truth still holds that it is not the one through whom the gift is manifest who has the gift. It is Holy Spirit who has the gift, and who seeks to wield that gift in His power to build up the Body as He wills.
We do not have to seek out the prophet; we have to seek out the Lord. We do not have to seek out the teacher; we have to seek out the Lord. We do not have to seek out the healer, we have to seek out the Lord. We must look past the resource to the Source which stands behind the manifestation, supplying the Body with every need that it may encounter through those who are willing to be used by Him who seeks to make known the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the world for which He died.
There is one seeming exception to the rule of others receiving the gifts that are manifested through some particular Christian for the Body. The gift of tongues seem to be manifested through me for me. Paul will write that he who speaks in tongues, edifies himself. He who prophesies edifies the Body. While this writing is not intended to be an exhaustive study of gifts, I would like to write briefly about my observation of the gift of tongues and its use by those who have received it.
When I first received tongues I was taught by men that it was a "sign gift" of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without tongues, you have not been Baptized in the Spirit.
My own experience belied that teaching. I had seen Holy Spirit manifested in power in the ministry of healing in my church. I had seen Holy Spirit enable me to preach when I was not able to preach in my own power.
I felt there must be another purpose for the gift. I recall a young housewife who came by my office one afternoon. She sat down and said, "Father Al, I want to tell you that I have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit."
My reply was a non-committal, "Oh?'
She continued, "And I speak in tongues." which was followed by another, "Oh."
before she asked, "Would you like to hear me?"
As one who does not like to remain long on the defensive, I asked, "Would you like to speak for me?"
To which she responded, "Yes." and proceeded to articulate some syllables that I am unable to write here. They were soft and sibilant. They were pleasant to hear, and she did not go into a trance, so I was able to ask, "What does that do for you when you speak in tongues?"
I do not believe that God gives us anything that does not have some purpose in His will for us. And I was right also about tongues. She said, "When I pray in tongues, I am not worn to a frazzle when I am out driving around with the children." That does not sound like much unless you knew the live wires she had for children.
Her experience convinced me that tongues was not something that I had to have. It was something that I wanted. It was a tool that I could use to deal with my interior, which contained a great heavy weight that always sat in the pit of my stomach.
I decided that I would seek the gift. I had people pray for me with no help. I was ready to crawl up the aisle of the Assembly of God Church with my collar on to receive the gift, but that was not something I had to do. God does not demand that we humiliate ourselves or anyone else. He just asks that we be willing to be humiliated. Scripture was correct. I had to ask; and I had to be willing to receive the gift on God's terms.
As I drove around the Maitland area of greater Orlando praying in what sounded like gibberish to me, I found the heavy weight in my stomach growing lighter. It is no longer there. When my anxiety level rises to the point where it is uncomfortable, I know that I have neglected the use of the gift God gave me to shovel the garbage out of my interior at the foot of the cross.
It has become a tool in praying for others when I run out of words in English. I suspect it is very similar to tears. Tears are the prayers that we pray when we run out of words. Whether they are tears of sorrow or of joy; they are the articulation of the interior feelings that we cannot articulate with the words that we know with our minds. When I do not know how to pray, Holy Spirit does. As Paul writes to the Romans, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we know not how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And He who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Rm 8:26
When we give voice to the words of Holy Spirit in any language - English, tongues or tears - we pray for ourselves and the deepest needs of our hearts, and we pray for the saints whom Abba would have us lift into the domain of His Kingdom. It is effectively our articulation of the prayers of Jesus that He prays through us by Holy Spirit, who is, in fact, God incarnating Jesus in us and through us for His Body the church.
The commissions of Jesus to the Church are seldom considered as the basis from which we find our purpose in the world. We tend rather to look to the world to meet some need that is apparent. We look for the key that will enable our own congregation to grow. We look for some way to win souls for Christ, so they might go to heaven rather than hell, rather than realizing that they are born into the far country, and need to be reconciled to the God who loves them, and has created them to become His children by adoption and grace in His only-begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are to see that we can know God, and if we deem Jesus as being correct, that is where we will find our eternal life. Certainly those who have been brought into the knowledge and love of God will attest that it is the greatest healing in their lives. To walk out of the apparent indifference of the creation into the infinite, unconditional, particular love of God for each of us, and to find that He calls us each by name is our touch with the one eternal reality in the midst of the transience of this world. It is not something that awaits our death and burial. It is that which we are to share with all of those for whom Jesus has poured out His life.
We are to open the way for people to see that God has provided the way for the healing of their souls. We are not brought to purity of heart by our own efforts of repressing the emotionally destructive forces within our souls. We are rather made new by the cleansing of our hearts, as Holy Spirit removes from us the works of the flesh to establish within us the fruit of Holy Spirit, or the character of Jesus. We are to open the way for them to see that the growth of the fruit of the Spirit within us is not the result of straining to be good; but to allow Holy Spirit to have full reign in our lives. When St. Paul writes of self-control, he does not speak of the ego controlling our lives. He speaks of the ego yielding control to the Spirit of God, that He might set us free at the soul level. The casting out of demons is not always the literal command to spirits to leave, though that is necessary at times. It is the creation of a new being. It is the disposal of the likeness of the first Adam in order that we might be found in the likeness of the last Adam, walking in intimacy with Abba, as Jesus has shown us we are to walk.
The healing of the body is not something that is unrelated to the rest of our lives. We are to let them know that the one purpose of sickness that is found in the New Testament is that the works of God might be made manifest in the healing of the sick.
We are to let them know that the healing of the mind does not consist simply in teaching them the Law or even grace. It is to teach them to think the presence of the Kingdom. It is to teach them to seek first the Kingdom and the King, so that He might bring us out of the insanity of the world, into the wholeness of the Kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
We are to call them into a community of God's love, and through baptism incorporate them into that community as living members of the same. We are to let them know the reality of the family of God through our relationship with God and with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord. We are to let them see the power of Holy Spirit making new those who come to God for the new life that He has prepared for us in Jesus.
We are to teach them to forgive one another, and to forgive themselves that they might be set free from blindness, from bondage, from apathy, and from guilt. We are to see them united with God and with one another as we have been taught and enabled by Jesus in the power of Holy Spirit.
We are to see clearly the nature of the authority of Jesus Christ in a world which stands confused over the authority of the Kingdom of God. We are to persevere in the exercise that authority to heal and set people free when so many are exercising the authority of the world in the Name of Jesus.
We are to walk in the power of Holy Spirit, yielding ourselves to be used by Him to be for others the sacramental presence of the risen Christ in human flesh. That is the commission of Jesus to the church, and where it is heard and followed, it bears the fruit that it has borne through the ages.
That is the whole nature of healing. It is more than seeing the remission of a cancer or the or even a change from an HIV positive to an HIV negative. It is a new creation in the wholeness of body, mind, soul, spirit, community and relationship, with God and with one another. Until we have seen that commission and been grasped by that vision, we will not know the Kingdom which has been prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
Come, Lord Jesus, open out eyes to see your presence in our midst. Open our hearts and dwell within us that we might become your healing presence for those for whom you have given your life. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit, that we might wield in your wisdom the authority that you have commissioned us to wield.