I have a good friend who was responsible for an event where Mother Teresa was the invited speaker. He tells of the difficulty he had in confirming the arrangements for her visit. When he’d call and talk with her people about the details they would say things like, “Yes, as far as we know, Mother will be at your event.”
Being the good, “nail-down” Presbyterian he was, and being responsible for a banquet hall that was to be filled with 1500 people who were donating to the cause that was sponsoring her visit, this type of answer would drive his estj personality crazy.
“What do you mean, ‘as far as we know?’” he’d fearfully ask.
“Well,” they would calmly reply, “Mother will be there unless the Holy Spirit tells her to go someplace else that day. You see, each morning she prays for the Spirit to guide her day and then follows where she’s lead.”
The most common invitation Jesus offered when he walked the earth was “follow me.” That same invitation is given to us by the Spirit of Christ living within us.
As mature followers of Christ and as leaders of God’s beloved church we need to be going where the Spirit is leading the body of Christ, not where we think it should be headed. This requires a lot of us, it requires spiritual maturity, a willingness to let go of our own agendas, and the skill of discerning what the Spirit is saying and where the Spirit is leading. And we cannot and do not acquire these skills in seminary. We gain them by the personal practice of piety and holiness.
To journey with the Spirit is treacherous, inconvenient and uncontrollable; situations we would normally avoid. Yet to not follow the leading of the Spirit is to miss out on God’s desired activity in our personal lives and in the world God so loved. Sure, we’ll be safe and our churches will be well ordered and organized, and maybe even helpful to society, but will there be any life? As Jesus said, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s choose life. Let’s follow the Spirit.
(part 3 will be my next post.)