And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:31
If we are to look for one defining quality of a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ it is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We see it throughout acts in both miraculous and seemingly ordinary ways. It is expressed in gifts (though maybe some gifts may be rare) and in a life that shows for the fruit of the Spirit. Christianity is not a set of opinions or a system of doctrines, but the reality of transformed human hearts and lives.
So how does this all begin? It starts when the Holy Spirit enables us to call Jesus “Lord”. It is a divine evidence or conviction of the love of God, through the Son of his love, shown to a sinner now accepted as a child of God. God showers his love on us and gives us the faith to love him in return. When we relent to God’s love God humbles us, convicts us, and begins to shape us into His image. God begins to reshape our wills to His will. And God doesn’t only shape us to abstain from evil, but puts a thirst in our souls to do good.
But Christianity is not just an individual faith. Early Christians began to gather together as a community of faith, fellow citizens of the Kingdom of God. The church began to reach out to share the good news and help people realize the work of God seeking each person. This wasn’t (and still isn’t) always accepted by the community that surrounded them, which saw a call of repent from sin and to seek God as a challenge to the values of culture.
But did this stop it all? No! God continued to grow His church. Even when ‘weeds’ began growing within the ‘wheat’, God continued to help his faithful children grow. And God will continue to use the church to bring his Kingdom into touch with our world. He will continue to use Christians to stand for righteousness, justice, and mercy. We are His means for sharing His grace with the world.
So what does that mean for us today? Does the Christianity of today reflect the faith of the early church? Do we still have a passion for the Holy Spirit in our lives? Do we still long to have God change us? Are we still actively seeking to share his truth against the struggle of our culture?
In a lot of ways we can all fall into the trap of living faith on our own – to do our own good and earn our own way. But that is not faith. God wants us to turn our lives and our church over to him. And we should have the same passion to share Christ as the early church – fighting against the culture that hates what we stand for. We need to seek God, seek the Holy Spirit, and let God lead us to stand for righteousness, justice, and mercy.
This is the 4th in a series of posts based on the Standard Sermons of John Wesley. These 53 sermons are required reading for every Methodist preacher and form the basis of Methodist theology.