I’ve heard it many times: “It was a life-changing experience.” Such is a frequent comment from participants in short-term mission trips through our church and other mission agencies.
For some it is taking a step in faith and discovering rewards. For others this is a reaction to first encountering poverty in under-developed countries. For one woman it was the experience of helping repair an Appalachian mobile home without expecting anything in return. A fresh effort to serve others different from yourself feels good. It takes special energy—energy the Holy Spirit can provide.
Too often Christ followers routinely go to church but miss the adventure of fellowship life in Christ. Faithful church attendance can get boring. It certainly seems so to many unchurched observers.
But church life understood as a fellowship of the Holy Spirit opens up new, more exciting perspectives. Believers together can discover how the Spirit individually draws them closer to God through new insights and relationships. With encouragement from others, they can discover how their lives get better whatever the circumstances they face. Dare we say, within a fellowship of the Spirit believers can add more joy to their lives.
Keep in step with the Spirit, Paul challenged the Galatians (Galatians 5: 25). See how the Spirit produces new fruit in your life. The Spirit can bring you deeper experiences of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. The Spirit can generate stronger motivation for acts of kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Discovering such life-affirming changes brings adventure to life in Christ.
Jesus announced that he came so that his followers could have life now in overflowing abundance (John 10:10). Accepting the redemption God’s Son Jesus won for us, we can have eternal life with God. Allowing God’s Spirit to work in our inner lives, we can grow in abundance the qualities that make life more fulfilling now. By the grace of Christ’s gift of redemption we are saved eternally. By the grace of the Spirit’s life-changing fruit we can live better now.
The Holy Spirit brings special energy into a believer’s life. This was the observation and firm belief of the Apostle Paul. He planted and kept in contact with dozens of New Testament churches. In his letters he often encouraged them by noting how their love for others and their joy were increasing.
Paul’s perspective on the special energy the Holy Spirit brings is highlighted in Gordon Fee’s book God’s Empowering Presence, his thorough study of all of the 143 references to the Spirit in Paul’s letters. Fee’s findings are summarized in his book Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God.
What is the level of special Spirit energy in your congregation? Look for behaviors you would not find in social clubs and organizations around you. Look for loving acts of investing time and effort in others without payback. The Spirit moves us beyond selfish motivations.
My community has a number of group homes for the developmentally disabled. Recently some of our leaders organized a “Night to Shine” at a local Holiday Inn in the form of a prom for these special guests. Anybody in the building that Friday evening felt that something special was going on just from the big turnout and the sound of people affirming others and sharing joy. That was special Spirit energy.
The Tim Tebow Foundation stimulated 650 churches to hold such an event this year. I don’t think you could find many civic social groups sponsoring this kind of event.
Staying in step with the Spirit can be an exciting adventure—yes, even fun. Spread the word. Encourage others to serve unselfishly. Organize opportunities to do so.