Spirit Filled or Self-Fullfilled
by Pat Mullins
"And now I appeal to the elders of your community as a fellow-elder and a witness of Christ's sufferings, and also as a partaker in the splendor that is to be revealed. Tend that flock of God whose shepherds you are, and do it not under compulsion, but of your own free will, as God would have it; not for gain but out of sheer devotion; not tyrannizing over those who are allotted to your care, but setting an example to the flock." 1 Peter 5:1-3 (NEB)
In the ways of the world, it is authority that is sought, and power appears to rest in the hands of those with the most authority, but like so many things in the Kingdom of God, we are exhorted by the Holy Spirit in the Word to seek responsibility rather than authority. A servant, or as St. Paul puts it, a "love slave" of Jesus Christ needs no authority to serve, and we are all fi rst of all to let the Holy Spirit show us how Jesus is a servant of His Father's will in the world. Since Jesus is our life and His ways are not the ways of the natural thinking of the world around us, we have been brought into the saving knowledge of God to be a sign to the godless world. We all know that God has moved in a mighty and wonderful way in our day with this outpouring of His Holy Spirit on us in the Charismatic Renewal. This sovereign action of God carries with it real responsibilities for each of us. Although we do not relegate to ourselves the title of elders or shepherd on any scale of measurement, the fact is that we have received the gifts of God in the Holy Spirit for service to the Body of Christ. Whether we know it or not, God has exalted His Spirit's work in us so as to make each of us a sign to not only the world but to our Church.
Our Holy Father John Paul II has spoken of the Charismatic Renewal as the hope and the heart of the Church because of the Holy Spirits' awakening a fresh desire for prayer and the reading of the Scripture. If this work of God is going to be able to continue in our generation, it is going to be because the Holy Spirit has people that are responsible to God's desires and leading, or else this renewal will go the way of so many of the out-pourings of the Holy Spirit in the history of the Church.
Fr. Don Gelpi, in his book "Pentecostalism A Theological Viewpoint", has traced the history of the Holy Spirit outpourings of God. These movements of God have always died out when the human self and selfi shness got strong enough to effectively quench the freedom of the Spirit to be about God's business. The great business of God is to sum up all things in His Son, Jesus Christ.
The great work of Satan, the enemy of our souls is to seek to deceive and destroy as many of God's children as possible by subtle distractions from the centrality of the person and work of Jesus Christ. One of these very subtle areas of deception is the current emphasis on the self with all the religious names used to disguise the lie. In so many ways the Charismatic Renewal is a prime target for this deception because we have seen and know of God's power and His desire to heal people and cause them to become whole in all aspects of their life. We in the Charismatic Renewal have been privileged to see an abundance of the merciful and miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our families and friends, and it is easy to see why so many of our brothers and sisters in the Charismatic Renewal have been seduced into seeking wholeness for themselves instead of seeking Jesus Christ. There is no real difference in the result that God desires for His children, He want goodness and life for all. The problem is that, for the Christian, the means, the Way, for arriving at "life in all abundance" (John 10:10) is opposite from the ways that the world offers.
The testimony of God in the Scripture, and through the fi rst 1900 years of our Christian faith, is that the fullness of life is experienced by living a life seeking to know Jesus Christ and to live the will of God. Now we are inundated with all sorts of self help, self esteem, and self this or that.
If prayer and knowledge of God through both the Scriptures and the Church are essential to the continued work of the Holy Spirit in our world, then this our-pouring of the Holy Spirit into all denominations is a main target of the Devil. He attempts to neutralize our single-hearted devotion to Christ by seeking to "actualize ourselves" by the means that the world offers instead of that trust in the Cross and work of Jesus to set us free from ourselves.
In a real sense we are all "earthen vessels" of the Holy Spirit to invited serve and help others around us, and so we are to allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly conform our lives to Christ. We must allow ourselves to be the signs that God can raise up to stand against the selfi shness of the world: signs of the difference of the ways of God in getting things accomplished, signs of the love that lives for God's purposes and loves and forgives because it is God's way — not simply because it makes us feel good. This preoccupation with the need to "feel good" about ourselves, or what we do, can be a trap to keep us from responding to the call and way of God to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit ... because obedience to the thought and ways of God are often not the popular or acceptable thing to do.
There are so many new doctrines fl ying around that seek to take our focus off of Jesus and place it on ourselves, or our work, or whatever, and they will all lead to despair and vanity. God has promised us freedom through denying ourselves in order to live for, and obey, His wisdom in our lives. That is the only way to truly know ourselves, and to become all God has created and redeemed us to be.
Beloved in Christ, we must continue to look away unto Jesus. "Fix our eyes on Him on Whom our faith depends." Trust the trustworthiness of the Holy Spirit to bring us life and satisfaction for our souls through faith in Jesus Christ, and stop running around like the heathen looking for "self-fulfillment" in the offerings of the world. "Be on your guard; do not let your minds be captured by hollow and delusive speculation, based on traditions of man-make teaching and centered on the elemental spirits of the universe and not on Christ." (Col. 2:8) NEB
Father, as with all our words we entrust these exhortations to the Holy Spirit to teach us as we follow day by day in faith in Your son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And Father, we speak with the awareness of the danger to many from the deceiving spirits in the world today, and we trust you to keep us safe from the evil one as we are you children, your beloved, in Jesus Name. Amen.
From "The Life Work of Pat Mullins" Series Reprinted from THE BURNING BUSH NEWSLETTER © December 1983 Eph 1:4 Christian Books. For additional articles, audios or videos of Pat's work go to www.LAFPDL.com or call (925) 828-0944