“…be filled with the Spirit”
— Ephesians 5:18
I stood face-to-face with a young man who was overcome with emotion. He had just responded to a call to be filled with the Holy Spirit and was trying to figure out what had just happened in his life. His voice was trembling as he spoke,
“I came forward to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and I think it just happened. As I prayed, it was like every space in my soul that was resistance to the love of Jesus, every place that was blocked to the fullness of His presence, melted away. I feel overwhelmed by the love of Jesus. Is that it?”
I smiled and embraced this young man. I whispered in his ear, “Yeah, that’s it!” He had moved from proximity to presence.
One of my deep concerns for the C&MA is that we have a rich theology of the Holy Spirit but an impoverished experience of the Holy Spirit. In many ways, we have become afraid of our own theology. We can end up living in proximity to the presence of God but not enter into the presence of God.
In 1901, Andrew Murray addressed a group of missionaries in Africa and boldly declared, “The key to the missionary problem is missionaries. They believe in the presence of the Spirit of God but they lack the encounter. There never should be a missionary ministry that is not full of the presence of the Lord.”
Do you lack the encounter? For many, the fear of losing control keeps them from experiencing the transforming presence of Jesus. We stay close to the flame but never experience the fire! We desperately need an encounter with Jesus.
When Paul commanded the believers in Ephesus to “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit,” he was calling them into a deep experience with the living Christ. He was not asking them to have a measure of the Holy Spirit and to know a good deal about Christ, but to be wholly filled with and possessed by the Holy Spirit, utterly lost in the life and fullness of Jesus.
It is time to move from proximity to presence?
“Father, let the Holy Spirit have full dominion over me, in my home, in my temper, in every word of my tongue, and in every thought of my heart, in every feeling toward my fellow men; let the Holy Spirit have entire possession” (Andrew Murray, 1828-1917).
1. Are there any issues of control that keep you from experiencing the fullness of God’s Spirit?
2. Have you settled for proximity rather than presence? Are you willing to boldly ask for more?
David Hearn is the President of the C&MA in Canada.