Church Write-Up: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

At church last week, the pastor preached about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  I am in a bit of a hurry, so here are some thoughts:

A.  The pastor was saying that a barrier many Christians have when it comes to being filled with the Holy Spirit is that there are a lot of other interests and preoccupations taking up space in their hearts.  A question that enters my mind when I hear this is: “Okay, so are you saying we need to be totally occupied with religion?”

I wonder the same thing when I read the Bhagavad Gita, As It Is, as Swami Prabhupada’s commentary encourages people to be totally occupied with Krishna.  At the same time, the Swami also says that we can go about our daily lives, doing our daily tasks, and yet we can and should be doing those things in a state of Krishna-consciousness.  That may have been what Paul was getting at when he said: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).  (Paul, though, was talking about the biblical God, not Krishna.)

The pastor was probably talking about focus: we should put more focus on God.  Perhaps one can be conscious of God and one’s identity in God, though, while paying attention to other things.

B.  The pastor was saying that, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, others will look at us and see something that they want and thus will become Christians.

The question in my mind is: “Do I look at Christians and see anything in them that I want?”

Here, I am not talking about hypocritical Christians, but those who sincerely believe and try to walk the walk that they talk.

Well, I can look at other people, Christian and non-Christian, and see things that I want in terms of personal characteristics.  I wish my social skills were better, for example.

Looking at Christians specifically, I can admire their joy.  That does not necessarily make me want to be like them, however.  I know a Christian who is enthusiastic about the Lord, for example, and that gives him joy and peace through life.  But he is also somewhat of a zealot, and he is very dogmatic.  I doubt that he has even thought much about, say, what someone with a homosexual orientation goes through.  I wish this Christian well, but I cannot say that I want to be like him.  And that’s not necessarily a horrible thing: I am where I am, similarly, and I do not expect people to want to be like me.

C.  I guess what I am saying in (B.) is that there is a part of me that considers Christian joy to be an uninformed joy, or a joy that comes with tunnel-vision.  The pastor, though, was emphasizing that the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom.

I struggle with that, albeit for other reasons than what I mentioned in (B.).  I can look back at foolish decisions I made, and I do not recall the Holy Spirit attempting to dissuade me from those foolish decisions.  Some may say that he was and I was not listening!

Actually, even now, when I look inside of me, all that I see is myself, rather than some other voice speaking to me and guiding me.  There’s just me in there!  Nobody else is home!  Or so it feels.

D.  The pastor  was exhorting people to be patient with God.  God may be waiting until we are ready before God fills us with God’s Holy Spirit.  Maybe foolish decisions can make one receptive to the Holy Spirit: the pastor indirectly refers to foolish decisions that he made.  The pastor also talked about the importance of prayer that includes praise, not just requests, and Bible reading that seeks understanding rather than simply plowing through verses.

 

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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One Response to Church Write-Up: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

  1. Heather G says:

    This post put a smile on my face.

    Another one is when people talk about how the Holy Spirit interprets scripture for them. Most people can’t actually explain how this has transpired in their experience, nor name a specific interpretation that they believe the Holy Spirit gave them, but still repeat sort of mindlessly, “You need the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture for you.” On the rare occasion I have heard someone insist that a particular understanding of scripture came to them by the Holy Spirit, often it has sounded a bit off. Once in a while I concur 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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