If you’ve spoken to me in recent years and asked me about where I think there is a current lack in Christianity my likely answer has been to do with the “normal Spirit-filled Church”. “Where is there a lack in Christianity?” Answer: we need “normal spirit-filled churches and normal spirit-filled Christians”.
Now, let me say straight away that there is nothing “normal” about being Spirit-filled but, on the other hand, I don’t believe it should be strange (i.e. crazy, weird kind of strange). There is nothing normal about a person who was previously without faith in God, to then have faith in God, be given a new spiritual heart and be indwelt and empowered by Almighty God. Nothing “normal” about this at all. I think Christians sense this need, and this is perhaps why we have some groups that have gone a little too far (?) and have become … well … a little wacky. Their outlook is all about the supernatural, all about the Spirit of God from the food they eat to the stories they dream. And, let me say, I’m all for the supernatural and praise the supernatural God that intervened in my life in a supernatural way. Let’s shout this boldy and robustly that our God is a Supernatural God. SO, “normal” in my vocabulary doesn’t mean “lukewarm” but instead it refers to the “way Christians are suppossed to act, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and empowered by God”. What does this “normal” spirit-filled person look like?
Well, of course, this is an easy question to answer … the “normal” spirit-filled person thinks, acts and speaks like Jesus.
More difficult question: how do we actually measure this? How do we know that we are Spirit-filled? How does a church claim to be filled with spirit-filled people? So here are some of my thoughts:
1. NORMAL: There is a Jesus conversation more than any other conversation.
We don’t draw attention to the Spirit or ourselves but Jesus. This is the ultimate proof that we are filled with the Holy Spirit – we are speaking more of the time about the Person and work of Jesus. This is, of course, the role of the Holy Spirit:
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Question for reflection: What do you talk about the most? What is the topic of conversation? Is it Jesus? Do you seek to mention his name as often as possible?
2. NORMAL: There is life being born in terms of salvation, recommitments and prodigals.
Because the most powerful thing God does is convert dead sinners to faith in Christ, when the Spirit fills a congregation, we should expect to see the miracle of spiritual life.
Question for reflection: are you part of the process in which people come to saving faith?
3. NORMAL: There is an every increasing demonstration of submission to each other.
There should be an increase in the fruit of the Spirit demonstrated by a mutual yielding to one another – which is what the Holy Spirit does, and Jesus did. A Spirit-filled church will have people that prefer each other above themselves.
Question for reflection: do you get frustrated by others or do you willing yield to others?
4. NORMAL: There is a growing depth of conversation where the flesh cannot last long.
The Spirit puts sin to death in us and Paul in Gal 6 exhorts us to gently address each others’ sin.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
A Spirit-filled church is where sin is safe but not safe. It’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay there.
Question for reflection: are you pursuing ways to put sin in you to death and helping others do the same?
5. NORMAL: There is a love, respect and obedience to God’s Word.
Being filled with the Spirit is synonymous with what Paul said in Colossians:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
So, a Spirit-filled church will look like a church where the Bible pervades every conversation.
Question for reflection: what am I reading? Do I love it?
6. NORMAL: There is a partnership to doing all that we can for His church.
Paul stated in 1 Cor 12:
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthains 12:7
So the church – and the Christian – that is Spirit-filled is the church full of people serving in many ways for the common good.
Question for reflection: What are you doing to build the church in partnership with God?
7. NORMAL: There is a great desire to maintain unity.
The Spirit-filled congregation believes the best about one another, looks for common ground, serves each other, goes out of their way to build relationships with each other, grieves over and attempts to biblically solve divisions and shares life with people who, on the surface, are very different.
Question for reflection: do you believe the best about others or do you believe gossip and rumours? What about looking for common ground with those you disagree with?
I think you will agree that there are some massive challenges for us as a church, but as a church we will only ever be as Spirif-filled as the people who make up the church. So .. are you the normal spirit-filled Christian?