A HEALTHY CHURCH… is built by the power of the Holy Spirit

Can you enjoy a double-caramel-triple-shot-extra-whip Frappuccino? Of course you can! Can you grab one on the way in to work, and one on the way home every day? You’d better not! You’ll be one unhealthy out-of-balance mess.

We can easily get off track about the Holy Spirit. We tend to overemphasize Him or ignore Him. On one unbiblical extreme we see so-called faith healings, holy laughter, and general disorderliness that the Apostle Paul referenced in his letters to the Corinthians. But on the other unbiblical extreme, we can talk about God the Father and the work of Jesus Christ and never mention the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit. We need our understanding of the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives to come directly from the pages of scripture. We are not trying to bring back the Apostolic Age, but to take biblical truth and go forward today.

Jesus explained to his disciples in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Such wonderful promises! It is incredible to comprehend that the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you and me. We should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives. Our lives should be vastly different than unbelievers’ lives.

I believe there are millions of churchgoers in America who cannot confidently say they understand and experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. The entertainment model of church that was largely adopted in the 1980s and 90s created a wider appeal for church, but it often cultivates self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, this observation was originally made by a mega-church pastor! If we honestly look at the New Testament, we see a very different church. Trials came, but they only served to fuel them. They were counter-cultural, yet even the unbelievers could not deny that something supernatural was happening. The Holy Spirit in their lives produced a group of believers passionate about things of the Lord.

A sure sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives individually and collectively is that God is glorified, and not people. Consider when the disciples were speaking at Pentecost in Acts 2. Seventeen different language groups heard them in their own language. Verse 7 reveals “…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Later in the passage, scoffers accuse them of being drunk. But at no point were the disciples glorified. Scoffers either scoffed, or people realized that something orderly and supernatural was happening, and God was glorified.

So go ahead. Grab that epic Frappuccino. And while you’re at it, remember that the Holy Spirit does not want to be forgotten. Let His presence in you result in real change in your life. Not “ho-hum life-as-normal change.” But epic God glorifying change. Epic like that Frappuccino you’re sipping right now.

-Thomas