The Holy Spirit has come into the world through the rush of a violent wind and a spreading fire. The Holy Spirit has been breathed upon the world through the very mouth of Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been unleashed through God upon the very heart of Jesus in his baptism. The Holy Spirit has moved over the waters of creation and unleashed the ongoing creative power of this vast cosmos. The Holy Spirit moves and has its being amongst us – the disciples of the living Christ.
There is a great power in this Spirit. There is great healing in this Spirit. There is a great hope in this Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes possible things that we could hardly ever imagine or ever ask for. The Holy Spirit is for us – the living!
Do you have the Spirit? The good news is whether you feel like it or not, you do. The Holy Spirit is with you – this world – and all creation. Are you alive in the Spirit? Now this is a deeper question. This question begs of us as to whether or not we are living as though this Spirit fuels our life or not. Does the Spirit of the living God drive you to do the previously thought impossible? Does it bring clarity and focus to your life’s mission? Does it lead you in new pathways and into new possibilities for the world? Does it open you up to live unleashed and fully empowered? Does your life look like the rest of what is seen, or is it taking on new shades and new heaven sent dreams? Does it carry you through the darkest of times and shower upon you the light of a new day in Christ? Does it fuel, fire, hone, shape you? Does it take you from quiet pastures to bold horizons? Does it take you from the known to the unknown? Does it invite and encourage you into making an impact in others lives? Does it put a burden on your heart and a vision for tomorrow? Does it lead you to unlock your doors and to embrace what is to come? Does it take you from a grazing complacent sheep to a spirited roaring lamb?
Now before reading on – consider that image – a spirited roaring lamb. What would it look like for you to live as a disciple of Jesus in this way? Journal a few thoughts here before reading on………………..
I continue with a quote from Bob Briner that I feel appropriately challenges our discipleship movement in today’s world. “I’m afraid many in the world view us as a flock of lambs grazing in the safe pastures surrounding our churches that have been designed to blend right in with the neighborhood landscape. We’re good neighbors. We look like everyone else. And except for when we worship, we follow the same patterns of behavior as those who have little or no interest in following Christ.” Or as asked above, “Are you alive in the Spirit?”
Just because I am alive, taking up a parking space, able to breath and have a pulse, paying a mortgage, able to shop, cook dinner, care for kids, run errands, work out at a club, engage in conversation, attend worship, give away time and funds, does NOT mean that I am fully alive. Sure, I have life with these above mentioned things, but not necessarily a Spirit fueled discipleship life. I have been witness to all kinds of living just like you have. But we are not always witnesses to the roaring lamb lifestyle that Jesus shepherds us into. We must confront this fact, especially when confronted with all that God does on our behalf, all that God hopes for on our behalf, and all that God yearns for in this world.
I put a caution before you. Living the World’s Story versus God’s Story we are tempted to put our faith to sleep. I see huge gaps between what we profess to be most important – and then the actions that follow. I see kids and young people living on the edge of the extreme choices that bring about hurt, pain, and even death. I see families so fragmented that they are losing their very souls. I see white hot anger. I see cave-person like reactions acted out on well meaning folks. I see an increased diminished quieted faith.
If the time of our life is consumed with hearing about God, watching about God, learning about God, as if we were to sit passively in front of a 52 inch television and let that be our experience of the world and God, then we may have had breath, but we never really lived.
That is why our worship is participatory, why we stress so passionately the commitment to community, and why we strive in all we do to make our outreach hands on and life impacting.
The disciples got a clear picture of this post the resurrection and on that Pentecost day. They always had the Spirit, but now they were confronted with what to do when you are alive in it! A radical difference I must say.
Daily we go to work here in the body of Our Saviors as we move from with the Spirit to alive in the Spirit. It is life giving to see the transformation and change between the two. Here are some roaring examples:
This past month during the Rite of Confirmation for our 9th graders – I saw with my own eyes the coming alive of our youth. Through the confusion of what faith all means, through the tears of pain, through the articulation of why we need God in our lives, through the befriending and Christ like sharing, through the willingness to step up and put hearts on the line, voices brimming with ‘we must live this faith,’ the youth moved from complacent lambs to roaring lambs.
It can only be a movement of the Spirit that brings out 10 sets of hands and feet to go and serve alongside our brothers and sisters on the Rosebud Reservation this summer. When we get out of our zip code we come back more alive to serve in our local context. Who else can get the credit when time, talent, and treasure is given passionately and freely so that others can experience more life. Let’s just say that this servant experience is full of roaring lambs.
The team of folks working feverishly to get VBS launched and ready for the kids of this entire surrounding community are moving towards roaring lamb status. The kids and fellow adults who are graced by this ministry will experience Christ, his love and hope, and if the past is a predictor of future success, then we already know that the Spirit will be blowing through this place.
The youth and adults attending Confirmation Camp in the coming weeks are another sign of this advancing Spirit. Many show up as seeking complacent lambs, only to return as roaring sheep with stories to tell!
Our cries, our hurts, our hopes, our spirit fueled inspiration is changing the face of our world – one person – one place – one prayer – one story at a time.
All of these are prime time examples of how the Spirit is moving amongst us. Our call as church is to fuel and fan the flames of that same Spirit as on the day of the first Pentecost. When we do that – we find ourselves more and more alive – coming alive – breathing alive – advancing alive – dreaming alive – roaring alive.
Our culture – our world – our own neighbors and friends – are wondering and watching. They are wondering and watching in trying to figure out exactly how this Jesus thing works. They are often left to wonder whether He and the Spirit make any difference at all. It has been mused by many a doubter over time, whether disciples of Jesus shape the surrounding culture or whether the surrounding culture shapes and changes us. Some have even gone as far as to say that the church is a nonentity when it comes to shaping our world. The very thought of this being placed upon the church and disciples of Jesus brings me roaring back to life. Our mission – our call – our life – is to important to just simply step back and watch it go on by. We are made to be more than sheepish lambs. We are made to be more than a carbon copy of the surrounding culture. We are made to be more than lullaby Christians. We are made to roar in Christ – for the world – for each other.
And so…how can you and we collectively grow more into the likeness of Christ? How can we become more inspired by the Spirit of life? How can we take the Spirit that has already been so freely given to us – and let it roar?
As you pray in the Spirit, may you remember that this summer is a great time to be a roaring lamb – and may you be so inspired by the roaring lambs around you, that you too roar alive as a disciple of the risen and roaring Christ!