It seems these days I often need to activate something. A new savings card arrives in the mail and needs activating. I sign up to a new loyalty program and get an activation email. You get a new SIM card for your phone and need to follow the activation steps. My kids get a new game and they want me to quickly activate it. I pick up a recipe and even the nuts and seeds need activating!
Activation switches things on, gives energy, initiates growth.
This idea has been on my mind a lot over recent weeks as I have been reflecting on what it means for followers of Jesus to live the kind of life they yearn for, but often don’t experience. What’s the missing piece? What might we need to activate in our lives?
In a great message at this year’s Hillsong Conference, Carl Lentz powerfully reminded delegates that followers of Jesus are meant to be Spirit-led, Spirit-fed people. Yet so often, for so many different reasons, we fail to live day to day as Spirit people, benefiting from all the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives.
The reality is that I can’t become the person God wants me to be without the work of the Spirit. I can strive to bring transformation to my life, but it is only as the Spirit is activated in my life that I can grow and change and live and look more like Jesus.
Without the Spirit, I labour in my own strength and never experience the fruitfulness and impact that innately I desire to make. Without the work of the Spirit, I will not grow in the character qualities God wants to shape in me – things like peace, joy, patience and self-control. Without the Spirit at work in my life each day, I will not grow and make good use of the unique gifts God has deposited in me to make a difference in the lives of others, which ultimately brings glory to God.
Learning how to be filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit by faith can be the most important discovery of our Christian lives.
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, He promises His followers that they will not be left alone. He promises His Spirit “who will never leave you” (John 14:15-31). In Ephesians 5, Paul reminds us of the need to be regularly re-filled with the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5, Paul highlights the vital importance of staying in step with the Holy Spirit.
In simple terms, without the Spirit activated in my everyday life I will not experience the “more” that God has in store for me – the “more” that I yearn for.
Why do we miss out? My experience suggests there are a number of common reasons. There are a number of barriers that consistently hinder followers of Jesus from activating the work of the Spirit in their lives.
- Ignorance – a lack of Biblical understanding about who the Spirit is and what He wants to do in our lives.
- Control – when we fail to surrender our lives to Jesus.
- Sin – where habitual sin continues to block the power and work of the Spirit.
- Intellectualism – where we allow our natural minds to rule out the power and potential of the supernatural.
- Religious tradition – where religious traditions get in the way of God being able to freely work in our lives.
- Fear – when we fail to step out in faith and trust God to have his way in our lives.
- Pride – when ego and self-focus gets in the way and life is more about us and our priorities than Jesus and His Kingdom purposes.
- Familiarity – when faith in Christ becomes overly familiar and we lose sight of new possibilities and encounters with God.
- Resistance – when we actively resist what God wants to do in our lives.
- Others – when we are more concerned about pleasing others than letting God have His way.
- Apathy – when we become spiritually lazy and give little time or attention to the work of the Spirit.
- Guilt – where we haven’t experienced God’s forgiveness and are being weighed down by things from the past.
Today, is one or more of these issues getting in the way of what the Holy Spirit wants to do in your life?
Here’s the crunch! Every authentic follower of Jesus I have met wants genuine change in their lives. They want transformation. They innately know God has “more” for them. I know this is true in my own personal experience and this is where we all need a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit.
In his introduction to Letters to the Young Churches, J.B. Phillips writes:
“The great difference between present-day Christianity and that of which we read in these letters, the New Testament epistles, is that to us, it is primarily a performance; to them it was a real experience. We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule of heart and life. To these people it is quite plainly the invasion of their lives by a new quality of life together. They do not hesitate to describe this as Christ living in them. This same first century power – the power of the risen, living, loving, indwelling Christ made known through the Holy Spirit – is still available to you today.”
The older I get, the more I seek to simplify my faith. So often we complicate Christianity. And yet the more we keep it simple, the more we open ourselves up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
If you are a follower of Jesus then today the Holy Spirit is within you – but are we attuned to what He wants to do? Are we appropriating His power? Activating His gifts? Discerning His leading? Appreciating His comfort? Allowing Him to get on with the work of transformation?
I Can’t Manufacture Christ-Likeness
I can’t manufacture the fruits of the Spirit.
On my own, the voice of fear calls loudly. On my own, circumstances can become overwhelming. On my own, I can miss out on what God is doing all around me.
But with the Holy Spirit activated, with the power of Jesus at work within me, suddenly everything changes.
I open my life to character change. I open my life to expanding faith. I open my life to the strength, peace and resources of heaven. I open myself to God’s clear leading and direction. I experience the freedom and victory that Jesus won on the Cross. I position myself to experience the “more” God has for me – not more of what the world says I need, but more of Jesus that opens the door to life and life to the full!
When I get an activation email I can choose to ignore it, but this blocks my access and opportunity to the resources available to me.
The Holy Spirit is here – ready and waiting to “invade” our lives, our relationships, our marriages, our vocations, our churches and communities.
The Big Question
The big question – do we want to surrender our lives afresh and enable Jesus to invade our hearts and minds?
If like me you say “YES” to the above, then you may like to join me in this daily activation prayer: “Come Holy Spirit and have your way in my life.”
A Spirit-led life is not meant to be weird, spooky or crazy. Often those who make it that are focused more on themselves than Jesus. As we see in the Book of Acts, a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered life is meant to be the norm.
I am a work in progress. I haven’t arrived. And thank God, Jesus is not finished with me yet!
“Come Holy Spirit” is a prayer that opens the door to the power of heaven – a prayer of activation – a prayer that God will answer when offered in faith.
Today, do you have some activating to do?