Filled With His Fullness!
A pressing question in the church today is how to engage our culture with the life changing truth of the gospel. As I read John 4 and think about the evangelism techniques on display I would have questioned God’s plan to advance His name among the Samaritans if I lived in that day and culture. His plan used the lowest of the low, a Samaritan, a half-breed, a woman, and not a respectable woman but one of ill repute. How crazy is that? Do you think the disciples would have approved of His strategy if He had discussed the plan with them ahead of time? Can you see the disciples having a board meeting? Jesus begins to speak, “So guys, we have a few things on the agenda today. First I want to discuss our trip to Galilee. We will go through Samaria. When we reach Jacob’s well, you will head into town to buy food. I will stay at the well alone. While you are gone, I will proceed to engage in a private conversation with one of the town’s immoral women, asking about her life of sin. I will offer her a free gift and disclose to her who I really am. She will tell the rest of her town about me, and they will come, and they will believe.”
Imagine the response of the religious community. You would not find this method in any book on how to do evangelism. The disciples would be scratching their heads thinking, “Jesus could you add any other religious or social taboo into your plan?” They would be questioning His wisdom. Can you hear the objections around the table? “Make sure she repents before you use her!” Another leans to his neighbour, “She needs deliverance!” Another shouts above the murmuring, “Maybe have her take a class or something first.”
When I think of how to carry out the great commission in light of the unconventional method Jesus used to reach the Samaritans, I am not drawn to think of strategies or studies for how the Church can better meet the needs of our ever-changing culture. Instead I think of the last sentence in Matthew, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I am brought back to relationship, and to His promise to be with us, to “strengthen us with power through the Spirit…and to dwell in our hearts by faith” as seen in Ephesians 3:14-21.
As new covenant believers we have been given the fullness of God through His Spirit. This is a life-changing truth. He can say to us, “be holy as I am holy”, because God has provided a way through the power of the Holy Spirit for us to live in holiness. Through abiding in Christ, in His Word, and living in fellowship with His Spirit, we remain open to His leading for reaching our neighbors, families, and co-workers for Christ. Jesus said “I am the vine and you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Abiding is not easy. It requires intimacy of relationship. It requires stopping to listen, sometimes waiting for the right timing just as Paul desired to go to Bithynia and Asia, but the Spirit forbade him to go. In some ways it is much easier to try to copy another church’s success. We look at what they are doing to “succeed” in making His name known and seek to transplant that method to our situation. But the Lord has not left us as orphans to figure out how to reach this generation on our own. We are just as empowered by the Spirit as those in the early church. It is a season to return to our first love, being done with attitudes and behaviors that quench this precious gift of Spirit we have been given. It is season to seek His leading in every conversation, every decision, every difficulty, so that like Jesus we will be doing only what we see the Father doing.
Imagine with me a church that awakens to the revelation of the gift we have been given in the Holy Spirit! A church that lives every day empowered by the Spirit! A church that comes together in unity saying, ‘Not our will, but Yours be done!’ What happens in a life that is rooted in the truths found in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3? We become people who see that impossibilities can become possibilities by His Spirit. We become people who shift cultures, for His name’s sake. We become people who step out in faith, believing that God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or imagine!