So far I’ve shown that Christian spirituality is, quite literally, Spirit-uality. It is life lived in the Spirit. When we live in the Spirit, we are transformed by the Spirit to be more like Christ. We are guided by the Spirit as we live each day. And we are empowered by the Spirit for ministry.
But what about passionate spirituality? How can we be excited about living out our faith? Where does this sort of passion come from?
Catching the Wave of the Spirit
This too, comes from the Holy Spirit. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit includes love and joy. The Holy Spirit moves our hearts, giving us a passion for that which enflames the heart of God. Similarly, the Spirit reawakens within us the joy we knew when we first put our faith in Christ.
In my experience, passionate spirituality comes when I experience the transforming presence and power of the Spirit. If I can see the Spirit at work in my life, I get excited about God. I remember an Easter morning a few years ago. I had just preached the second of four Easter services, and was greeting folks at the door. A woman from our church came up to me with tears in her eyes. “My eighty-five year old mother just became a Christian,” she said. “Though I’ve been bringing her to church every Easter for years, today something you said broke through, and she gave her life to Christ. I am so happy!” And so was I. Thrilled, in fact. When I had some moments to myself, I thanked the Lord for the sheer privilege of being used by him. And as I preached those next two Easter services, I don’t know if I ever felt more passionate about the gospel.
But this sort of experience is not just for preachers. It’s available to each and every one of us as we begin to follow the Spirit’s lead in our lives. Let the Spirit guide you. Step out in faith. Reach out with the love of Christ to others, and you’ll find new excitement in your Christian life.
Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve experienced the power of the Spirit in your life, over and over again. Perhaps it happened when you were sharing your faith with a friend. She asked a tough question, and all of a sudden, as if out of nowhere, you had a great answer. You realized the Spirit of God was at work in you. Or maybe you were teaching Sunday School and facing a tricky discipline challenge. In a flash, you knew how to deal with the situation. That was the power of the Spirit in you.
Living in the Spirit is a little like bodysurfing. Now you’ll have to forgive a Californian illustration, but I haven’t been around here long enough to pick up some good Texas ones. They’ll come in time. Anyway, one of the things I liked to do in California was go bodysurfing at the beach. Have any of you every done this? You don’t need a surfboard or anything, because your body becomes the board. Basically, you go out into the surf, bobbing around as you wait for just the right wave. When you see it coming, you start swimming toward the shore as fast as you can. Soon, you feel the wave cresting around you. If you’re lucky and if you’ve timed everything right, then all of a sudden you feel the wave sweeping you along. You stop swimming and get caught up in the flow of the wave’s power. In the right conditions, you can ride along effortlessly for many yards. When the wave finally dies out, you feel pumped with excitement, and can’t wait to get back out there for the next wave. You might call that passionate bodysurfing.
And so it is in our Christian life. When we’re attentive to the Holy Spirit, when we’re in place that the Spirit wants us, when we’re available and ready to go, we get caught up in the flow of the Spirit’s power. We realize that God is at work within us, producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And we see God at work through us, using us to minister to others by the Spirit’s power. Then we feel pumped with excitement, and can’t wait to get back out there for the next wave of the Holy Spirit. And that, sisters and brothers, is called passionate spirituality.
Note: This series on Passionate Spirituality was originally a sermon preached at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Boerne, Texas. If you would like to read the whole sermon, click here.