Three or four years ago I was part of a bike-riding group. As we sat around a coffee table after the ride, one of the other riders made a comment about the benefits of running as opposed to riding, in that it is more beneficial regarding bone density over the long term. Something like that anyway. I thought that was interesting and so the next week I decided I'd give running a go for the first time in over 20 years. I made it a kilometre or two. But bit by bit, I added another kilometre and then another. Over time I figured out how to nurse different injuries to the point where this year I've run over 20 km more than once! Who would have thought my body had that potential? Certainly not me three or four years ago.
But human potential stretches well beyond physical demonstrations of fitness or strength. Last week I watched a professional strings ensemble perform here in Mackay. Wow! Such a powerful experience to hear the music they were able to produce. Of course, there is a huge diversity of interests and gifts that humans have been blessed with. But how do we make sure we reach our full potential?
Life Is To Be Lived In Awareness of the Spirit of God
The Apostle Paul explains in his letter to the Philippians how we can find fullness of joy and live life the way it was designed. Not by following rules, but instead by finding life in Jesus Christ. Paul explains of the Christian person,
'it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh' (Philippians 3:3)
Last week we considered that Paul refers to the religious idea of circumcision to refer to the fact that Christians have "cut off" unhelpful restrictions from others through coming to follow Jesus. But notice in the verse above how we are meant to serve, meaning we are to worship and live a life full of joy - by the Spirit of God. Rather than mustering our own strength to find the fullness of life, Paul indicates that we are to open ourselves to the Spirit that Jesus Christ is willing to pour out upon us.
Wait to Live By the Power of the Holy Spirit
As Jesus Christ began his public ministry on earth, God the Father allowed people to see where Jesus strength came from. At his baptism, the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus like a dove (Matthew 3:16). Then as Jesus ministered, he invited people to consider the fact that he was operating by the power of the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28). It was by this Spirit, that Jesus was filled with joy in his interactions with others (Luke 10:21). Further, it was because of Jesus confidence in the Power of His Father by the Spirit, that he had knew he would die, but also rise again after 3 days.
In a similar way, though Paul was in prison facing death, he was confident that he too would be delivered because of his relationship with the Spirit of Jesus (Philippians 1:19). He had learnt not to rely on his own abilities or achievements, but instead to wait to be carried by the Holy Spirit. We would do well to cultivate a similar relationship with the Spirit.
How to Wait For the Holy Spirit
For one thing, if we want to worship and live by the Spirit, we cannot be focused on meeting a set of man-made rules or expectations of what human life is meant to look like. We cannot live out of jealousy of what others have or are achieving, or out of pride at what we have achieved over against others (Philippians 2:3). Instead we actively cultivate a relationship with the Spirit (Philippians 2:1) and learn to love the things the Spirit loves and is trying to work in us: love, humility and sacrificial service of others (Philippians 2:2, 4, 17).
If you'd like to think more about pressing on with the Holy Spirit for a joy-filled life, why not have a listen to the sermon from last Sunday. ____________________________
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
You might like to think a little bit more about your spiritual health, by taking the Spiritual Health Check Score Card here.