This week I have been reflecting a lot on what it means to be filled with the Spirit. As a young Christian (more years ago than I care to remember) I was involved in the charismatic movement in Australia and back then thought that being filled with the spirit meant to have an experience of speaking in tongues. Now I have a very different idea. To be filled with the Spirit to me now means that I intentionally choose a way of life that is integrated with God and God’s purposes. Might sound a little pompous I know but I am struggling to realize that what being filled with the spirit means is that I deliberately choose each day to lay down my own self-centered life and consciously live each moment in God’s presence and doing God’s will. Some days I do better than others.
I also struggle to recognize that God has gifted me not for my own satisfaction but so that I am better equipped to play my part in God’s family and work towards God’s goal of restoration of all creation, living towards that day when Christ returns and all are made whole.
I am seeing more and more that God’s spirit is constantly working within us to break down the barriers that distort our ability to lead a life that is fully integrated with God and there are lots of barriers. There are barriers within ourselves that resist God’s life – selfishness, greed, fear, covetousness, the inability to believe God really loves us all separate us from the life God wants us to live. There are also barriers that separate us from an ideal relationship with God – busyness, self-centeredness, independence and the desire to “do it my way”. Then there are barriers that separate us from others – lack of forgiveness, the desire to control and a lack of willingness to listen to people who think very differently than we do all separate us from God’s people.
Lastly, there are barriers that separate us from God’s creation – a lack of the sense of the sacredness of creation through which God’s glory shines, lack of proper stewardship and a lack of understanding of the interrelatedness of all created things. The list of barriers that separate us from God seems endless. Thank goodness we do not need to break them down alone but can rely on the Spirit to keep working within us to change us.