What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say, “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say, “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit. (The Message)
Summer is nearly upon us. In Christianity, this means we are entering the longest season in the Christian Year. By it’s sheer length alone, it behooves us to give it some recognition. We can only do that if we realize where we’ve come from so far.
The Christian Year
The Christian Year began with Advent – a time of anticipating Christ’s incarnation and remembering that Jesus will come again in a second advent.
We have celebrated the twelve days of Christmas, the birth of the Christ child, leading to the season of Epiphany. We kept up the celebration through rejoicing in God’s revelation to the entire world – all peoples everywhere – in having Christ’s earthly ministry of teaching and healing on our behalf.
Lent has come, beginning with Ash Wednesday and moving through six weeks of focusing on spiritual disciplines which prepared us for Christ’s death, and hopefully, our own death to sin, as well.
Then, we rejoiced in the Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday, and experienced a fifty day observance of Eastertide, including the Ascension of the Lord.
The Day of Pentecost has come, as we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church, acknowledging our personal and communal spiritual power.
Now, we revel in this season of Pentecostal power, known as “Ordinary Time” or “Proper Time.” It is a time of engaging in the ongoing work of the church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the Christian’s “proper” and “ordinary” work of ministry.
The Christian Life
All of the work of Jesus in securing redemption for us is directed toward using the spiritual gifts given to us for the life of the church and the world. There’s no going back. We move forward, utilizing everything provided for a godly life in this present difficult age.
Now we develop our ability to walk and live in the Spirit for the rest of our lives – working out our salvation with reverence and respect.
What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13, MSG)
What the Apostle Paul was getting at with the Corinthian Church was that inspired speech from God always exalts the Lord Jesus – and doesn’t point to someone else, especially the speaker.
In their pre-Christian days, many of the Corinthian believers were involved in pagan worship practices which also involved some inspired speech. But the issue for Paul is less about the speaker and more about the direction of the speech. If the inspirational talk only points to self, or someone else other than Christ, then that speech isn’t from God’s Spirit. Any true divine utterance will clearly point to Jesus.
In a society which was continually angling for personal display and a sort of one-upmanship, the Corinthians were prone and/or tempted to fall back into old ways of drawing attention to themselves. But the entire point of spiritual gifts is that that they are given by God to be used for helping others center their lives around the Lord Jesus. Anything short of that is simply non-Christian.
The Christian Commitment
Which is why I bring us back once again to the Christian Year with its seasons that follow the life and ministry of Jesus. Christian time revolves around Christ. Christian commitment centers in Christ. In Christianity, literally everything has Christ in the middle of it. To do otherwise is something other than Christianity.
We may not (and do not) all hold to the liturgical year as Christians, and that’s okay. Yet what isn’t okay is going off to do your own thing by making salvation something you made the choice to have, giving some of your time, money, and abilities at your leisure, as if you’re really the one in control, not God.
The demands of Christian discipleship are complete and total. Christianity is a life, not a hobby. Christians are followers of Christ’s words and ways, not fans cheering him from a distance without getting their hands dirty in Christian service and love.
Everything we have is a gift given by a gracious God to be stewarded well for the glory and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our penultimate gift is the Holy Spirit, who helps complete a renovation of the heart so that it revolves thoroughly around Christ.
Almighty God and Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give me grace so to put away selfishness and wickedness so that I may always serve you in holiness and truth, through Jesus Christ my risen and ascended Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.