As they said in the 1960s, “Keep on keeping on.”
In the world but not of it
It takes time to acclimatise to a foreign country. Not only time, but it is difficult too. There are immigrant communities in the UK and British ex-pat communities in other countries, ghettos where people try to continue living in their native style. There is no difference between the two in that regard.
Christians are citizens of heaven first, we should be living as if the culture we have come out of is a foreign country. Being “in the world but not of it” is such a common phrase in Christian circles that you would think it came from the Bible. Sadly it doesn’t. On the one hand, it can be used to point out that while we are citizens of the Kingdom of God we have been sent into the world to work for God here, but on the other hand, a preacher can use it to label someone’s actions as ‘worldly,’ whatever that means. It can become a means of abuse. We are supposed to help not hinder people in their spiritual walk.
Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” A church can become like the world in a previous decade and then not move on which leaves it an anachronism both to the world and to the kingdom of God, saving few.
Which world do you live in?
Keep on keeping on being filled with the Spirit
In Ephesians 5:13 Paul also said, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” My bible commentary points out that the Greek present imperative tense is used in this verse. It has the connotation of a continuous replenishment, an ongoing filling. The Salvation Army had a phrase in the early 20th century, to keep on keeping on. Keep on keeping on being filled with the Spirit.
50 years after the Salvation Army’s use, keep on keeping on was in popular usage used by John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Dylan among others. Another 50 years on from that I am returning the phrase to its original meaning.
We are to keep on keeping on being filled by the Spirit. Be continuously filled with an ongoing pouring out of the Spirit. I need it because although I blog about Christianity I am a lousy Christian the allowing other things to fill my mind and the filling of the Holy Spirit leaks out. This is not God’s doing, but mine. Being open to the Spirits continuous filling is something I have not achieved yet — call me a work in progress. The prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit” in times of stress is a way I have found very helpful, when I remember.
The filling of the Holy Spirit is not so that we can have a warm fuzzy feeling. I reject that idea of spirituality. The Holy Spirit is to equip us practically to do the work of God in the place where we find ourself. The Holy Spirit is not for a hermit-like retreat, but to help us to be practical Christians in showing ourselves to the world.
I became a Christian while at university in 1974. Near to the Science block off campus was a small Christian bookshop which had a section selling craft from the developing world. This was the beginning of Tearcraft (now Created) the trading arm of Christian NGO Tearfund, which itself was the relief arm of the Evangelical Alliance. A few years later another fairtrade organisation, Traidcraft, was launched from the same place.
Fair Trade has one of its origins in the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember that the next time you buy bananas in a supermarket with the FairTrade, Rainforest Alliance, Soil Association or other similar stickers on them.
The Holy Spirit came on the church as described in the Bible in Acts chapter 2. In Acts 4 the Spirit fell again on the already Spirit-filled Christians who received the Holy Spirit again because the asked for more bold preachings/healings/miraculous signs and wonders. They got it. You do not receive because you don’t ask is what the Bible says in the letter of James — Ask and you will receive is what Jesus said.
Jesus said, in John7:37–39, that springs of living water would well up in the lives of those who follow him.
Join me in my prayer: Lord Jesus, give us that water always. Come Holy Spirit.