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July 02nd, 2022
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gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

Two weeks ago, I mentioned pumps in the fields, some standing idle. There could be several reasons they’re not working: a malfunction, they might not have a source of power, or it could be that they don’t reach deep enough anymore to be productive. 

A philosopher might question, “If a pump isn’t pumping, is it still a pump?” 

The pump could be a metaphor for a life of faith, with two parts both closely related, labeled “being” and “doing”. First is the subjective side of Christianity. This comes about when we spend time with God, developed a closer relationship with Him, and become a subject in the kingdom. Living the right way isn’t possible in our own power but happens when we relinquish control. 

Just before leaving his disciples, Jesus told them, “‘wait for the gift my Father promised, … in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 1:4-5). Peter was a follower of Christ for three years, but it wasn’t until Pentecost that he was enabled to live the way he desired. Evidences of being baptized with the Spirit include, “…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Way back in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist told how he knew he would recognize the Messiah. “‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’” (John 1:33). And, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” (Matthew 3:11). The pair on the Emmaus Road recognized the crucified Jesus. “‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24:13). 

There’s a dramatic story of fire in 1 Kings 18:20-40 of Elijah challenging 450 prophets of Baal. He set out the sacrifice, drenched it with water, and prayed to the Lord. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38). The baptism with fire promised in the New Testament consumes sin, cleanses hearts, burns away self-centeredness. 

So, “being” is of first importance, and it comes through baptism with the Spirit. There’s no point in doing if the spirit of God is not directing actions. 

Yet there’s an objective side of Christianity, and the Bible talks of producing more fruit. It sounds as if “doing” is an expectation. “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful’” (John 15:1-2). 

The Spirit directs us to our work. “‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:8). We don’t receive God just to hold him close to our heart. Sometimes it’s not even necessary to speak words to be a witness. The power of a convicting presence leads others to realize they need change. 

The Spirit will provide intuition and discernment. “‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth’” (John 16:13). When needs are revealed, sometimes following Jesus’ example becomes our responsibility to address them. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and … he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). 

We’re not only to be good, but we are to be good for something. Like the pump that’s not operating we may need to be fixed, moved or have our power restored. Love is implicit in the being of God throughout eternity, and it became explicit in the life of Jesus. Love will find a way of service. 

GUEST COLUMN, Ganon Evans, Kansas Policy Institute

 

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