Spirti Filled and Spirit Led

     Coming home from church a wife told her husband,
“Did you see that outfit the Johnson girl was wearing? She should know better
than to wear something like that to church.”

“I didn’t notice. I was thinking about the prayers
we said today” Replied the husband.

     “And Nellie Swanson, flashing that new diamond ring
around her husband gave her. I think that’s the only reason they came to church
today.” declared the wife.

     “I didn’t see it.” The husband replied, “Do you think we ought to take the Walk to Emmaus the pastor is always talking about?” 

     “And Barb was telling me that Judy and Dick’s son had quit college and was living with some girl in Omaha.” The wife continued,” Can you imagine?”

     “Guess I hadn’t heard that.  I was really struck with what the Pastors said in his message.”

     “Oh honestly dear,” said the wife, “I don’t know why you bother to come to church!”
       A few days ago I was explaining to someone how in the Book of Acts the early church was
established to help people receive and be changed by the Holy Spirit. That, I asserted, is why the churches in our community were started. She quickly added that they were also important for social gathering and community activities. She right of course. Churches have always been a central gathering place for community affairs and social interaction. But it got me to wondering if the church’s primary purpose of receiving, being changed and sharing the Holy Spirit, has been reversed with the secondary purpose; socializing. It can be argued that the Holy Spirit leads us to proclaim it’s presence to others and that requires socialization. However, we may have forgotten about sharing the “Good News” and made “spreading the news” our main objective in church.

Even before Christianity, when people gathered in temples and other sacred places, they shared the news of the community and it was essential to “worship” in order to know what was going on. The Apostle, mindful of what Jesus did to the money changers in the Temple, attempted to establish a different way to worship. One which received the word of God and not the word of their neighbors. The early followers of Jesus were “spirit filled and Spirit led”. Initially they had great success and the early church grew abundantly.

     Socialization is essential if it leads to spiritual change and growth. However socializing in
church does not guarantee you will be spiritually reborn. That would be like standing outside and hoping it will rain in order to be washed clean. We need to intentionally place ourselves in a position to receive the Holy Spirit. Yout step into the shower. 

     In the church of the Apostles, socialization was a means to receive, be transformed and share God’s Grace. Transformational worship is not incidental. It is intentional. We do not acquire the spirit like
we do grey hairs or wrinkles. We seek the living spirit by placing ourselves directly in its path and not flinching when it runs over us. 

      Throughout history places of worship were the central gathering places for social interaction. There were no other institution, save saloons and taverns, to interrelate with each other. With the advent of TV and automobile, people had wider access and increase options for mingling. Those whose exposure to the Holy Spirit was “incidental” began to satisfy their social needs elsewhere. Many others had built their sense of community around their churches and continued to attend out of habits. And yet
there are still those who attend church to intentionally receive the Holy Spirit and be reborn, reshaped and reenergized by it.   

     The modern church, large or small, rural or urban, have two choices; to attempt to be a popular gathering place for social interaction and activities and compete with sporting events, television and
shopping malls, or to provide something that no one else can.

     For me the answer is simple. The modern church, as was the church of the apostles, needs to be a place to receive the Holy Spirit. Socializing is a tool or activity that should lead to this goal. Too often it
falls short and we have an institution that has become a place to gather rather than a place to be renewed. To the faithful who attend, let them be replenished and strengthened in their faith. For those who are outside our walls, let them know that what they truly need is not found in the workplaces, stores, sporting events or social networks. May we help them see our church for what it is truly
meant to be; spirit filled and spirit led.

 

Pastor
Dan