July 4th 2020 Soliloquy
Often I’m drawn to Luke 11:5-13 where Jesus is teaching on prayer, and specifically prayer for the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:5 He offers the parable about someone who has a guest, late at night, apparently quite unexpectedly, and he has nothing to feed him. So he goes to a neighbor and asks for 3 loaves of bread. This is a story about asking for what we need so we can provide it to another.
I see this as significant, referring to the Triune God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Jesus is called the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). And we’re told (Colossians 2:10) that we “have been made complete in Christ, Who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Stay with me on the trail here to see where this goes.
Yet, at the end of the parable, although it is clear that - although we have been made complete IN Christ - we are to keep on persisting in asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit. Jesus states a promise that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and keep on asking. This is the grace - all that we need from God - bestowed through the Spirit that must flow into us continually, because each day’s challenges and needs are different. In other words, although “of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace,” (John 1:16) we have received it in the sense of it having been deposited to our “account” in the riches in glory, in a figure of speech. We need to make withdrawals from that account by asking, seeking, and knocking - praying continually for the Holy Spirit, where by this fullness desired for us by the Father can be granted. Why? Because we are needy, beggarly sinners who need to be restored according to the fulness of Christ.
The heavenly account in Jesus our risen, ascended Lord and bestowed upon us by the Father, through Him, must be asked for and received continually. But unlike any worldly bank account, we have no deposits we can make or offer of ourselves. We are generously invited, however, to make as many withdrawals as needed, which are eternally, infinitely, richly provided and available to all who ask by God our Heavenly Father!
It is a humbling thing to realize that we are needy always, but that our generous Heavenly Father “will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:!9) We possess nothing in ourselves, but yet have all things in Christ, to bring us fully into salvation and restoration in Him. We are justified, cleansed, made whole, salvaged and refit for heaven. It remains only to receive it! This is to our account in full in Jesus, and accessed as we keep on asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit.
The mistake is made when what is ours in Christ Jesus is taken for granted, and no withdrawals are accessed. Then we become like spiritual Scrooges, never accessing what we have, but only bemoaning the poverty we imagine we must endure.
This brings up another paradox - that we, in that state, never access the spiritual wealth of God - His fulness via the Holy Spirit. A consequence of this is that we then are also miserly toward others as well. What we need to understand is that whatever we have has not come from us; it is not “ours” in the way that we have earned or generated any of it!
Just as God gives to us freely, so we are to manifest His own generosity and thus His likeness in life. Jesus bestows His love and generosity upon His disciples, a plentitude of spiritual authority. He then says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) Freely!
We’re given all things in Christ, but it’s not “just for me.” Remember, a few loaves and fish were put into the hands of a few men, who were told, “You give them something to eat.” And in the giving forth, they were multiplied to the 4000 and the 5000! The kingdom operates on a different principle than the world: we receive all from the Father; we freely then give. It is always enough!
Abundance comes, paradoxically, not through stinginess and hoarding for oneself, but rather from a willingness to first receive from God, and then to let go and generously bless others (whether with spiritual or physical good). Now that is freedom!
It is done in conjunction with sharing, proclaiming, and preaching the message, “The kingdom of heaven is near!” (Matthew 10:7) The message is backed up by attesting miracles revealing the reign of God among men, and a casting out of the presence of demonic strongholds set up in human beings. The disciples were to neither acquire nor to carry any coin of the earthly realm. (Matthew 10:9,10) They were to expect to be provided for as they set out upon their journey to carry the Good News of the kingdom. It is a lesson in both receiving and giving directly from the Lord, providing and being provided for for us as well.
Today we think in terms of a national, secular Independence Day. But that is an entirely limited way of being, one from which we have been set free in Christ. Again it’s in Christ! He is the Prince of Peace Who by His life, teaching, death and resurrection, and ascension, calls to all to be His Church, His citizens, revealing an entirely different realm of being - for which we were originally created - called the Kingdom of Heaven. We can step out of this realm of finiteness and lack into His realm of infiniteness and abundance.
If our King, Jesus, says that His kingdom is not of this world, and He has called us to be a part of that, and we claim to belong to Him, then likewise our kingdom is not of this world. As He was, we are to be about our Father’s business. We have been set free from the world of darkness and spiritual lack and poverty to carry His love and the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom to those remaining in this world, so that they too may be set free to access and to become all that the Father has for them in Jesus Christ.
Let it be so. Soli Deo Gloria!