Changed by the Spirit

I wrote this for my English class.  but I think applies to more than my teacher.

Change by the Spirit

Everyone on the planet wants to be happy, and they are searching everywhere they can to find it.  Many look to drugs, sex, relationships, jumping out of planes, and all kinds of crazy things.  This desire comes because we are made to live in the presence of God.  When God created man, he designed us to dwell with Him in the Garden of Eden.  The problem we face today is sin.  Sin has corrupted the world in which we live.  Sin is the barrier that keeps us from the presence of God.  Sin blinds us.  It keeps us from seeing the truth.  Fortunately, God has not left us in the dark.  He has revealed Himself multiple times throughout history and has trusted the church with the responsibility with relating this truth to others.  The Church is composed of those who have heard this truth and accepted it. The truth is that there is a God who created you, who wants to be with you, and who loves you.  It is the truth and the manifestation of the truth that for which everyone is longing.  The manifestation of this truth is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the essence of God.  God is where all things worthy of being called good come from.  He is love.  He is Joy.  Experiencing His presence is what we are longing for.

The Church has been given the responsibility of sharing the truth with the world.  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of  all nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching themto observe all thatI have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Disciples are people who devote their life to Jesus.  They eat, breathe, and drink Jesus.  The goal of a disciple is to emulate everything Jesus did.  One of those aspects is how he served.  They serve with the idea that they are serving on behalf of Jesus.  This has come from the Church being described as the body of Christ.  God works through people, and we are his hands and feet.  Here in America, the Church has failed at making disciples and being the hands and feet of Jesus.  This is due to the lack of reliance on and saturation of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the presence of God.  It is our power source, our joy, our peace, our comfort and our hope.  Without it, Christianity is just a religion, a set of beliefs and rules to live by.  Without the Holy Spirit, God is only the all-powerful creator and judge.  While this is true, it is only part of the picture.  God is also close.  He is near, waiting for us seek Him out.  Most of the Church seems to view God in a manner that places him at distance.  It has made it our goal to please Him so that we don’t go to Hell.  If we do a good enough job jumping through the hoops, God will grant our wishes of health and wealth.  It is this misconception that has lead to the American Church’s failure.  It has turned Christianity into a check-list.  It has cut out the heart of the matter and focused on the tiny details of how it is lived out.

God’s whole goal is to restore the relationship that He and humanity once had, the one He originally designed; for whatever reason He longs to be with us.  It’s not just a matter of rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked.  We “church people” often think we are so awesome because we don’t drink, smoke, or fornicate, and those who do should be eliminated because they are bad and terrible people.  The truth of the matter is we are all bad and terrible.  Even our good deeds, our righteousness, are as filthy rags before God.  God is so holy that Mother Teresa looks like Adolf Hitler when compared to Him.  So, we need get any idea of superiority out of our heads.  Any good we do is because of the change the Jesus has caused in us.  Without Jesus, we would be in the same place as they are.  For those of us who “believe”, it is because God has opened our eyes and drawn us to Himself.

God doesn’t tell us not to do these things just because he wanted to make up some rules.  Every command He gives comes from the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all of your mind, and all of your soul….”  He then adds, “Love your neighbor as yourself…”  What we need to understand is God loves all of humanity.  Anything he calls a sin either harms us or someone else.  The people that are participating in “sinful” activities are often killing themselves.  They have bought into the lie that these things are going to make them happy.  What they are doing should break our hearts.   They are killing themselves, walking down a path that ultimately leads to their destruction, an eternity in Hell, separated from the love of God.  If we truly have accepted Jesus and His presence lives in us, then we should never look down on these people in judgment.  Instead, we should be filled with compassion and pray that the Spirit of God will soften their hearts and open their eyes to see the truth.

So, we have discussed how Christians shouldn’t be defined by a lack of substance abuse and bad behaviors, even though that is not a bad thing.  Our lives should be marked by the presence of God.  Our goal should be to spend as much time in his presence as we can.  Who/what we spend our time with decides who/what we become; it’s like a law of nature.  What you are around rubs off on you.  If you spend all you time watching or listening to things that are full of “bad stuff” then you become more and more like that.  If you spend your time reading the word of God, conversing with God, and singing songs that reinforce those things, then you are going to become more and more like God.  The word “Christian” was applied to the disciples as meaning “little Christ.”  There were not two groups of followers: one being the generic Christians who are like your average person and then disciples who are the people that become pastors and such.  They were all disciples.  The goal is for all us to become as much like Jesus as humanly possible.

The problem is churches aren’t focusing in on this idea of spending time in the presence of the God of the universe.  We are focusing in on the little details and rules.  This is creating dead and dying churches and people.  We are removing the power and the drive that made the original church so alive.  Churches in America are dying.  There is no growth; Christianity is looked at as something that doesn’t work.  It is because the average Christian does not spend time in the presence of God other than on the occasional Sunday.  It needs to be an everyday event.  Every time that Jesus did a miracle, the Bible mentions that the Holy Spirit was involved.  It was the Holy Spirit that empowered the first century Church to do miracles, and it is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to storm the gates of Hell and set free the captives.

I once was your average normal Christian with good intentions.  I meant well and tried not to do bad things.  There are two main things that attribute to the change that has happened in me.  First it was the confession of sin.  I had a major relapse into porn, and it was around the time that I confessed that things began to change.  The other thing that changed was my prayers.  I began to ask God to teach me how to seek his face.  I began to pray out loud as drove in my car.  I did this because I believe God is real.  I believe that God is with me wherever I go.  I believe that there is power in the spoken word.  And I believe that I can speak to God like He is my friend.  Since then the frequency of having intimate time with God has increased.  And it is these intimate times with God that have changed who I am.  It is time for Christians everywhere to get to know the God of the universe as their friend, as their Abba Father, to be engulfed by His spirit.