The Joy of the Spirit

Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ – John 20.21-22

Over the past month of ministry the theme of Spirit has come up repeatedly during pastoral counseling and conversations.  The reality is that the spirit with which we approach things or conversations has dramatic effects on the outcome of those interactions.  When we come to a hard conversation with the spirit of grace and humility the conversations are always more effective.  They may not go the way we had hoped but ultimately they go better than they would have. 

This is something that takes a level of Christian maturity and community to navigate.  Often times there are “right” responses or decisions which become wrong when our spirit is not in the right place.  Conversely, when one has a genuine Christ-centered spirit, there really is no wrong approach.  I am not saying things are relativistic in any way shape or form.  Things are either of Christ or not.  That is a hard and fast line we must recognize.

Perhaps the best way to explain this fully is to give a concrete example.  Recently, I had someone seek my counsel on how best to end their employment in the church where they worked.  Their position, which they were the first to hold, simply wasn’t set up well.  The job has been emotionally and physically draining and my friend working the job simply can’t do it anymore.  They care deeply for the congregation and the ministry they were doing, however, they can’t do it anymore.  We had a deep conversation about how to unwind their employment.  The biggest question was around end date and departure.  They had been advised by others to string the church along to hedge their bets while they work to find their next position.  I advised against that approach because there is no way to do that with a good spirit.  Ministry demands deep emotional engagement which simply isn’t possible while you are looking to what is next.  I counseled my friend so set a hard end date and stay fully engaged until that day.  A finish kick on the race if you will.  They need to decide how long they can have a good Spirit then choose the date based on that decision.  That is the best for the church and the best for them. 

Christ breathes his Spirit on the disciples and sends them out to do is work after the resurrection.  This is the Spirit we must realize we are carrying with us.  If we cannot reflect this Spirit of Christ in our being through everything we do, perhaps we are better off not doing it.  Surely Christ will raise up another if the ministry needs to happen.  Perhaps Christ is calling us to another form of service which we can do with a rich and abundant Spirit.  The Church and Christ’s ministry will be best served when we approach every circumstance with a Spirit which reflects Christ.  That will be an abundant blessing to the world.  May that be the description of each of us!

 

Humbly Submitted in Christ’s Service,

Pastor Jeremiah

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