© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.
A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week—we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body. The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.
– Francis Chan
I’ll be honest. I have uneasy feelings about the various “Bible Promise Books” that circulate our book stores. I think it’s rather dangerous to pick certain promises out of Scripture and cling to them without considering the entire context of the passage. Just sort of makes me nervous.
But promises themselves are great; especially when they come from God and are kept! Take for example the promise mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Galatians:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us… so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. ~ Galatians 4:13-14
Wow! I’d never noticed this until Francis Chan made mention of it in his book Forgotten God. I had always understood that Jesus died to redeem us from our sins and give us the promise of eternity with Him; but I’d never realized that it involved the promise of the Spirit!
Don’t get me wrong, I knew about the Spirit coming and I knew that Jesus had to first return to the Father in order for the Spirit to be sent; I just never connected it to being a promise from God! I’ve been on both sides of promises – giving them and receiving them – and generally speaking they are reserved for the really good stuff. So what does that say about the Spirit?
And this is no small promise! Jesus suffered an indescribably brutal death so that we could receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. Why would Jesus go through such agony and heartache to make good on such a promise? It’s obviously a crucial aspect of God’s unfolding story!
If the Spirit is important enough for God to make a promise about our receiving Him, then perhaps we should be open to getting to know Him better?!
P.S. – My Sermons/Audio page (above, right) has a new message pertaining to the Holy Spirit.