Many Christians today are completely failing at showing people the love of Christ, because they don’t know that love for themselves. They’re not filled with it. They’re walking around with all of this head knowledge of God, but lack the heart knowledge, and experiences with Him. What many people are seeing displayed from the Christian church is religion, judgement, legalism, and a sense of self righteousness-resembling the Pharisees rather than Jesus.
Why is this so?
Because many believers are missing the mark when it comes to receiving from God. They’re focused on doing, and obedience, and ignoring the whole abiding and being loved part. Mathew 10:8 tells us that
“freely you have received; freely give.”Mathew 10:8
Notice that it states that the disciples were given something to give, first? We cannot give what we don’t have. Everyone knows that! The Church is failing to give the love of Christ, because most of the church has yet to receive it, and they’re not experiencing God for who He truly is. In scripture it very clearly states that the most important commandments are
“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31
Do you think Jesus would command us to give something He himself isn’t giving to us first? The gospels very clearly spell out how much he loves us. Yet, we’re not giving that love away. (please note: love does have boundaries! I’ll be discussing this in another blog)
So, how does the church receive this love? Easy. The Holy Spirit. We MUST invite the Holy Spirit back into the church, and into our hearts, if we want to be filled with the love of Christ. If we want more of Jesus in this world, we must become like him ourselves, by allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us, and heal us over, and over again. God’s love is meant to be experienced. It’s meant to be tangible. Even Jesus often retreated from his ministry to spend time with his Father, so he may be filled back up with His presence and love, in order to continue to give and teach. We must follow that example. There’s no quick and easy way around it. We have to spend time meditating and resting in the Spirit-receiving God’s love and mercies for us, each day. John 15:4 states,
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”John 15:4
The Bible is amazing. Church community is wonderful. Worship is powerful. But we cannot get everything we need from just the those things. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit. We have to nurture our relationship with Christ by spending time with His Spirit. The church has diminished the role of the Holy Spirit, and now it’s time to learn from that massively HUGE mistake, and welcome Him back in with open arms. The Holy Spirit is the the Spirit of truth-our Helper. (John 15:26). He didn’t just come down for Pentecost. He’s alive and living today! He’s here with us to help us become like Christ. He speaks in us, and through us. He heals our wounds. He points us in the direction that we must go. Without His help, we are failing miserably. Without His help, all we have is religion. The very thing that Jesus detested in the Bible, and very thing people are walking away from now.
Being fully human, we do not have what it takes to love to the extent we’re called to as a church. God did this intentionally to keep us depending on Him. 1 Corinthians 4-8 defines God love clearly.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”1 Corinthians 4-8
That’s the love we are to display to those around us. There is no way we can love like that without the help from the Holy Spirit. We must be filled daily with the Spirit, in order to be the people God has created us to be. The more we seek him, the more we find him. And the more we find him, the more we find ourselves.
How to Discern the Holy Spirit from others:
Now, many might have ran from the Holy Spirit because they’ve seen how people may have displayed the manifestation of the Spirit, and they thought they were weird. I’m telling you, you can be filled with the presence of God without being “weird.” The Spirit of God brings joy, love, hope and peace. It’s soothing, and inviting. If someones manifestation of the Spirit is disruptive, then pray for discernment, asking God to help you understand what you’re seeing. I’ve been in churches where people thought their “spiritual experience” was the Holy Spirit. And I can tell you, it most certainly was not. In fact, the spirits that were manifesting had one purpose and one alone, to disrupt the connection of the Holy Spirit. They were obnoxious, putting on a grand spectacle, breaking off other’s connections with the Spirit, by drawing attention to themselves. Once, someone came right up to my face, like noses almost touching, and briefly yelled the lyrics of the worship song at me. Really? Does God want to break off our connection to Him? Absolutely not! But the enemy certainly wants to! Another time, a woman was screaming in tongues during worship. My discernment meeter went off and I was fed up with all of the free reign the enemy had going on there, so I walked up to her and laid my hand on her shoulder. I just simply said, any spirit that is not the Holy Spirit must remain silent! She insisted that she was feeling happy, and her body started to contort, and convulse. I knew it was not the Holy Spirit. I again, called on the Holy Spirit and declared peace over the woman. She went from blood-curdling screaming in tongues, to swaying peacefully while singing. She went from disrupting others, to truly displaying the peace of the spirit. That kind of peace didn’t just draw attention to herself, it drew attention to God. People want that kind of peace, and they want to know how to get it. We want spiritual freedom within the church building, however, we must use discernment and set spiritual boundaries. The presence of the Holy Spirit, is often calming an inviting. Unless you’re struggling with religion, (the spirit of religion hates the Holy Spirit) one should feel drawn into the presence. Not pushed away. Also, it’s just as important not to tame the Holy Spirit. Will people be dancing, expressing joy, and excitement? Likely! We are celebrating all that God is, and everything He has done. It’s difficult not to be expressive. Some may be crying because God has said something that their hearts really needed to hear at that very moment. Or maybe they’re in a very trying season in their life and they’re just releasing their pain. Worship is a safe place to express these things, and there should be freedom to dance, sing, cry, smile, laugh, etc. Barking, screaming, acting incredibly drunk, getting into peoples space, and intentinally drawing attention to oneself, those things are not the Holy Spirit, and should be prayed against. Those spirits are often attached to peoples desire to be noticed and seen. Pray that they will feel seen by God. That He will fill those needs for attention, and love, and heal the wounds from not feeling like enough. Pray with compassion, not judgement. We all have our brokennesses. And don’t feel ashamed if your authentic worship, or the presence of God on you draws attention to you for all of the right reasons. There’s a reason for that.
If you’re someone who has grown up in the church, but hasn’t experienced the Holy Spirit, I want to encourage you today to say this simple prayer,
“Holy Spirit, make your presence known to me.”
If you’re someone who may have submitted to disruptive spirits, believing that it was the Holy Spirit, ask God to show you your heart. You likely have some wounding that needs some tender, loving attention. And always pray for discernment. Discernment comes over time. Spending a lot of time in the Holy Spirit, builds a relationship between us and Him. It’s easy to recognize someone you spend a lot of time with.
If your interest is piqued by this topic, and you have more questions, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to encourage you all to invite the Spirit into your heart. He’s close, and will come when invited. Trust in God’s timing as well. He knows what He’s doing.