Alpha Ministries, Inc
All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!
Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.
Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “
The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.
|Posted on 19 May, 2020 at 10:10|
Perhaps the best-known scripture concerning the personal leadership of the Spirit is Paul’s command in Ephesians 5: 18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”. Although often abused by religious folks wanting to control others (i.e. condemning alcoholics and addicts or other believers who are deemed to be less spiritual), this verse is a key to the practice of spiritual enlightenment needed in our everyday lives. Like all the commands in Paul’s writing this the command to be filled with the Spirit gives us insight into the best lifestyle possible in this world. It is a more detailed explanation of the promise Jesus gave his disciples concerning the Comforter guiding and leading us.
The grammar of this command is important to understanding its meaning. Written in the imperative mood we realize that being filled with the Spirit is not really an option. Written in the present tense means that being filled with the Spirit is to be a continuous rather than occasional experience. And the passive voice means that being filled with the Spirit is something that is done to us, not something we can do to ourselves. Based on the grammar a better translation of this verse might be, “Stop allowing yourselves to be drunk with wine and wasting your life, but continually allow yourself to be controlled by the Spirit.”
The contrast between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit is meant to illustrate the control the Spirit has in our lives. Just as the wine controls all that the drunk man says or does, so also is the Spirit of God to control our lives. Being “filled” with the Spirit, then, is not that we get more of the Spirit than we already have, but that the Spirit gets more of us than he had before. In all that we do or say on a daily, continuous basis we are to allow the indwelling Spirit of God control our every move. While it may seem awkward at first, we have the privilege to “walk in the Spirit” just as Jesus did while he was here in this world.
Elsewhere Paul cautions us against the two main obstacles that keep us from being controlled by the Spirit. In Ephesians 4: 30 he says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” and in 1Thessalonians 5: 19 he warns, “Quench not the Spirit…” Both are written as a command to stop grieving and stop quenching the Spirit which imply that our natural tendency is to do both. We grieve the Spirit when we follow our own plans rather than the control of the Spirit and we quench the Spirit when we follow other people’s plan rather than the Spirit. The only one that has the right to plan your life is Jesus who died for you and gave you his Spirit living in you to direct everything you do and say.
The key to the spiritual enlightenment we need to live a healthy and productive life in this world is to allow ourselves to be controlled by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is referred to as “walking in the Spirit” and guarantees we will not fulfill the desires of the self-centered flesh. Like hearing God speak to us being filled with the Spirit requires the exercise of faith. We must believe that he wants to control our lives for our own good and that he will direct us personally in all our decisions. The spiritual enlightenment that comes from being controlled by the Spirit is an exciting lifestyle that allows us to be Christ to others.