SCRIPTURES – Ps. 104;Num. 11:24-30; Acts 2:1-21; John 7:37-39
Jesus said: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture hassaid, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he saidabout the Spirit. John 7
We live in a world which isgoverned by comparisons and judgments and opinions. Judgments are made andbenefits are given based on such things as a person’s race, or weight, orlooks.
Ø How many ugly, or even plain looking,newscasters do you seen on TV?
Even within the church this istrue. I’m sure each of you has opinions about others in the congregation.Parishioners evaluate and rate pastors. You know you do! Now, I’m not pointingthis out primarily to make you feel bad or change you. Judgments and opinions areoften necessary, after all. You have to be able to distinguish an ediblemushroom from a poisonous one. And, it’s certainly beneficial to know who is atrustworthy and honest person and who is not.
Comparisons and judgments andopinions are facts of life in this world, and even in Christ’s Church. But, canwe make judgments about the presence and work of the Holy Spirit? Can we knowwho is a “spiritual” person? Are you spiritual enough?
Jesus has a very important teachingtoday about the Holy Spirit that we need to take to heart. He says: “Whoeverbelieves in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow riversof living water.’” He was talking about the Holy Spirit, John tells us.With these words Jesus condemns one aspect of judgmentalism; namely, thedetermination of who is spiritual and who is not. Do you believe that Jesus isGod in the flesh, and that His death on the cross is the forgiveness of yoursins? You, then, have the Holy Spirit in your heart. You are aspiritual person, as is everyone who believes this of Jesus. Martin Luther putit so well in his explanation of the 3rd Article of the Creed:
Ibelieve that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, myLord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel,enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.
A spiritual person is a person whobelieves in Jesus. for, Jesus is the source and focus of the living water whichis the Holy Spirit, and so everyone who believes in Him has the Holy Spirit. Rejoicethen, you believers in Jesus! His Holy Spirit lives within you!
But, does He flow forth from you asa river of living water? Are you spiritual enough? Well, of course you’re not!You began this Divine Service by confessing that you are a sinner, sinful inthought, word, and deed. You are not spiritual enough, and never will be!
Can you be sure of the spiritualityof anyone? We can of one: Jesus. He is a spiritual person, the most spiritualperson who has ever walked on this earth! His “spirituality” was not clear andobvious, however, not even to His disciples. Read the Gospels and you will findout that:
Ø He had a divided family, and was in fact thecause of the division. The beginning of John 7, from which today’s Gospel readingis taken, points out that His own brothers did not believe in Him. Sometimes Heignored His family (Mark 3:31-35).
Ø He often disappointed people, including His owndisciples. They once yelled at Him, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”Two of His most fervent followers, Mary and Martha, once said to Himaccusingly, “Lord, if you had been here [like we asked you to be!] our brotherwould not have died.”
Ø He preached a lot, but His sermons did notalways make people happy. Sometimes they made people angry and disrupted theworship Service (see Luke 4:16-30).
I’m not trying to make you doubtJesus. I’m trying to make you doubt and reject your own definitions ofspirituality. A spiritual person is not the person who smiles a lot when inchurch, or who makes people feel good about themselves, or who says deep thingsabout God. You are not spiritual enough if you care a lot and share my views(this, I find, is the view of many self-professed “spiritual” people).
Jesus defined His own spiritualityin this way: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will ofHim who sent me.” (John 6:38) The Father’s will for Jesus wasespecially that He take the sins of the world upon Himself and suffer God’spunishment of them. He accomplished this, and gained for us forgiveness and theblessing of the Holy Spirit, by dying for us on the cross. He accomplishedGod’s will for His life. What is God’s will for you?
Primarily, His will is that you putyour trust in Jesus alone as your Savior. “This is the work God requires,” Jesussaid,“that you believe in Him who He has sent.” (John 6:29) Believe inJesus! Go to Him with your thirst and drink from Him in His Word andSacraments! He will pour out His Holy Spirit upon you, and that Spirit willflow forth from you as a river of living water.
How will the Spirit flow? What willthe Holy Spirit lead you to do? Simple things, such as those we confessedtoday:
Ø To honor your father and your mother, and theother authorities who represent them;
Ø To not murder but love and support yourneighbor, and every human being, in every physical need;
Ø To not commit adultery but lead sexually pureand decent lives and so honor marriage as God’s blessing and gift.
Of course, these are simple thingswhich anyone, even non-Christians, can do. They are spiritual works, the resultof the Holy Spirit flowing forth from within us, when we do them out of lovefor God and for the blessing of others and not ourselves. The presence andblessing of the Holy Spirit in our simple works of obedience to God’sCommandments is especially seen when we suffer because of them.
Ø When we deny our own desires to do what Godsays, because God’s will and ways are right.
Ø When we are rejected, and even called evil,because we speak out for what God says. For instance, when we honor marriage asthe life-long union of a man and a woman, and so speak out against easy divorceor homosexual marriage; or, when we honor all life by opposing abortion andeuthanasia.
You will know you are doing God’swill, and have the Holy Spirit flowing forth from you as a river, when yousuffer for the sake of Christ. For, the Spirit of Christ is not the spirit ofthis world. They are in opposition to one another.
“Would that all the Lord’s peoplewere prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Moses criedout when people protested the seeming unfairness of what God was doing. MakeMoses’ desire your desire. Let’s not worry about or focus upon our ownspirituality or how others view us, but instead pray for one another and desirethat God’s Holy Spirit would be poured out in blessing upon others. Our Lordwill then lead us in what is good and right. He will send forth His Spirit torenew the face of the earth; to renew His Church; and to renew you!