“To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1.12-13
Years ago – years and years and years ago – I was born of Mom and Dad. My brother and sister were also born of Mom and Dad. We all looked exactly alike at birth, so much so that when my sister was born, my mother’s only response was, “Oh my goodness! I’ve given birth to the same baby three times!” The amazing thing is that we all were almost identical to the baby in the one picture we have of Dad as a newborn. At birth, my son was also a carbon copy of that baby, and when I looked in the hospital window to see my own hours-old grandson, there was no question which one belonged to our family. That same baby had been born over and over again in our family, even four generations later.
What did you inherit when you were born of God? I’m still on Pentecost this week, even though that was last week. The purpose of Pentecost is to give birth to new Christians, to pour out the life of God within us. We say that – sometimes – but there is not a lot of evidence to back up our claim, so I am going to spend a few weeks thinking about Pentecost.
As I sat in church yesterday, I was thinking about the Giver of Life being poured out into our world, and I was trying to come up with some way of expressing the significance of Pentecost for Christian life. What was God doing at Pentecost, so we can be a part of it now? Yesterday was Holy Communion. Methodists always have Holy Communion on the first Sunday, a hangover from circuit riders who only came through town once a month or so. Most churches have full-time preachers these days, but a 200-year habit is hard to break. So, we just have Holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month. It’s like some kind of Methodist law or something.
As I listened to the Great Thanksgiving and words of consecration, my thoughts wandered back to Pentecost. The passage from Isaiah 60 came to mind, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.” He took bread, gave thanks to You, broke the bread, gave it to His disciples, and said: “Take, eat; this is My Body which is broken for you.” Against the backdrop of a dark and gloomy earth, images of the crucifixion flashed through my mind. “Drink from this, all of you; this is My Blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The Blood of Jesus Christ dripped and fell from the hateful, ugly Cross, splashing through the thick darkness of sorrow, sin, fear, misery, evil and death.
When Christ returned to the Father, He threw open the gates of heaven, loosing the Spirit of God to descend into the world. Pentecost is the moment when the Giver of Life poured forth from the throne of God and divine light and life began to spread across the earth. Like an iridescent, liquid, golden light, more beautiful than we can describe, the Spirit of God moved through the darkness, giving birth to a new creation and to everyone who would receive Him. The light and life of God were born in the hearts and minds of those who believed in His name, and the darkness on the earth receded.
That still goes on today. The Spirit continually moves across the earth, giving birth to generation after generation of children of God and pushing back the encroaching and suffocating darkness. But just as we grow and learn and become in our earthly families, we must grow and learn and become in God’s family as well. Maturing in Christ, we are imbued with the light and life of God so that He is visible in us; there is a family resemblance. If we do not seek maturity in Christ, we are in danger of allowing the oppressive darkness of the world to enshroud the light of God within.
Sadly, this is often how the world experiences Christians, because this is how so many of us experience Christian faith. It is something we believe, not someone we become. By the Spirit of God, we are to become little Christ’s in the world. Instead, too many of our churches are stale, exhibiting none of the untamed passion for living and loving. Absent are the inexplicable freedom of life in the Spirit and the unbounded joy of living in Christ. What is missing is the Giver of Life.
How do you look like your Father? How have you grown in Christ this year? How do the light and life of the Spirit penetrate the darkness around you? Do you live life with passion for the gift it truly is? Are freedom and joy the marks of your relationship with Christ? This is the Kingdom life into which you have been born. Pray that the life of God will grow in you, that you may truly live. This is your destiny.
In Christ –
© 2007 Servants’ Feast Ministry