April 25 Reflections
Restoration is taking the post-Easter, ‘getting ready for Pentecost’ season to study, explore, and engage the person of the Holy Spirit. In order to provide a benchmark and introduction, I talked about what life WITHOUT the Spirit is like. Here are my thoughts on what it means to be Spiritually Dead. (BTW, special thanks to Corrin Chambers who helped me with spanish…)
Here’s the point:
Spiritually dead people are only the product of their environment and sensibilities. They are facing pain, trying to cope, coming up with life strategies, and using whatever behavior they can get away with. Sometimes they are very successful. Sometimes they are harmfully destructive. Spiritually Dead People are completely blind [2Cor 4.4], unaware, clueless, and even hostile [John 10.31-33] towards spiritual things because the Spirit is not in them [1 Cor 2. 11,14] This is so important because if we are spiritually alive, we often mistakenly expect people who are spiritually dead to behave, or think, or act the way we do.
And Here’s a Controversial Thought:
As your pastor, I want us to tread cautiously when we try to legislate or control people’s coping strategies… We treat people like they are spiritually alive, when they are spiritually dead. I’m not saying don’t work for justice. I’m saying there is a reason there is a raging culture war about behavior: it’s because Christians expect people who are dead to the things of God to understand or embrace the freedom, purity, wholeness that can ONLY come from the presence of the Spirit of God. Attacking with scorn and derision the coping strategy that lets spiritually dead people face the pain of life will be fruitless… Or maybe just bear the fruit of self-righteousness. May I humbly suggest that you pray? Ask the Holy Spirit to come on them and make them alive.
I got several really good questions (thanks @ajgibbs and @dg_rad) after the service. Specifically, how should Spirit-filled people respond to the choices and coping strategies of spiritually-dead people? What if their coping strategy affects my life? These are extremely complex and I would love to hear your thoughts. Listen to the sermon, talk about it with friends, push back in the comments below. We’re wrestling with this together.