i talk to empty people. i talk to A LOT of empty people.
and i think i should let you know that this isn’t my assessment of people so much as their own introspective admission. at this point…if you think of yourself as a Christian…you may have already concluded that the empty people i am referring to are not of the Christian persuasion (because Christians can’t be empty…right? tongue in cheek). you would be wrong.
i have been saddened over the last couple of years hearing phrases like “i feel spiritually dead”, “there is nothing inside of me”, or “when i first gave my life to Christ i was alive…but now i am empty”. these admissions are usually followed by a deep sense of guilting, “i don’t read my Bible enough”, “i don’t pray enough”, “i don’t (fill in the blank) enough”. it seems we have it exactly backwards…as if we can really externally change what is internally wrong. it is not that prayer isn’t a great starting point…but the act of praying, in and of itself, is not the solution. rather…it is what we are praying for that matters. what are we praying for that will change us from the inside out? what will change us in such a way that we no longer guilt ourselves about not reading our Bible or not praying enough…but will actually result in a HUNGER to read our Bible or a HUNGER for communion with God through prayer?
if the most basic fundamental truth and foundation of our individual and collective Christian faith is that through confession, repentance, and baptism God pours out His Holy Spirit into us to put the old man to death and bring the new man to life…then why are so many Christians not experiencing life to the fullest? even further…why is there not an obsessive pursuit in every church crying out to God for the outpouring, filling, and anointing of the Holy Spirit?
here are two poignant truths:
-a Christian without the Holy Spirit is not a Christian.
-a church without the Holy Spirit is not a church.
conversely…an individual filled with the Holy Spirit…in community with other Spirit-filled believers, together, are nothing less than the body of Jesus Christ in the world! insofar as we are not seeking to be filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit…we are just a group of people getting together in vain experiencing emptiness and a gnawing spiritual void.
i used to think that “grieving the Holy Spirit” was an especially heinous and egregious act committed by only the most sinister of folk. however…the more and better understanding i have of grieving the Holy Spirit…coupled with the anecdotal evidence of people who were once “experiencing life” as they became new followers of Jesus…leads me to believe that this grieving is extraordinarily more common than what we may expect. in the Greek language…the word used for grieve is lupeo…which means to make sad or sorrowful. every time we neglect the Spirit’s movement…every time we do not follow the Spirit’s urging…every time we do not allow the Spirit to work through us in power and we in turn follow our own convention…we sadden the Holy Spirit. our negligence and ignoral of the Holy Spirit pushes His mighty power further from us…and instead of experiencing the mighty water rushing down onto the cracked, dry ground of our souls that brings forth abundant fruit…we feel quite empty and alone. it may even feel like the Holy Spirit has been quenched from our lives.
are you constantly in prayer asking God for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? are you on your knees asking for the anointing of the Holy Spirit in everything that you do? until you do…you will continue to feel empty and spiritually void. all attempts at being transformed…of the old man dying…and the new man coming to life will be attempted out of your own power and in vain. the works of your hands will be nothing more than nice gestures of goodwill like any other person from any organization…and not the life-transforming hands of the Holy Spirit. the words you speak will be empty words and not filled with the power to convict or to cut people to the heart like the Holy Spirit enables. your community may be incredibly moral and just…but will never be transformed in the likeness of Christ to live a life that dies self-sacrificially for your friends…not to mention your enemies…if the power of the Holy Spirit is not welcomed.
i pray for your soul to be mended back together by God’s rich outpouring of Spirit. for your life to be filled and overflowing with rich fruit of the Spirit. for you to be empowered and courageous through the Spirit’s power…even in trials and tribulations. for your thoughts, actions, motives, and deeds to be fused with the Spirit of God in such a way…that we…together…may be united in Christ…in power…so that the blind may see, the lame may walk, the weak may become strong, and the works of Satan are destroyed as the Kingdom of God continues to march on through His powerful Holy Spirit.