Let us pray. Gracious, living God, you are our God and we love you. You are the God of the universe. O God, we thank you for those who came before us, who in their relationship with you wrote their experience down and now it is Scripture for us. And so we ask today that you would speak to every listening heart today. Speak to me, your son; help me to be open to be your channel. May we walk in obedience to your Word to us this day. In the name of Christ, Amen.
We all act out of who we are inside. Somewhere in the deep places of our spirit we have an opinion or a notion of who we are. We all act out of that inner reality. No matter how we try to conceal this side of ourselves, who we are will "out" itself, as I heard my mother and others say when I was a child.
My daughter Isis is a good writer and speaker; she has won awards for her school and in other places for her writing. She has been chosen often to speak in church as well as for her class in school. When I read her writings, I tell her that she's good--she really is. She often remarks that she got her writing from me when I compliment her. Of course, this humbles me. I am the proud father.
My friends, who we are IS often internalized because of other people's influences in our lives--whether for good or for bad. As Christian people, who we are should be shaped by our efforts to keep the word of Jesus and by our willingness to accept the Holy Spirit's role in teaching us. Jesus tells his disciples that those who love him will keep his word. He goes on to let them know that God will send the Holy Spirit in his name; the Holy Spirit will be a teacher.
There is an overriding public sentiment in contemporary culture for individuality. On many fronts--TV shows, talk shows, newspaper columnists, advertisements--there is the push for "being who you are": a person who should always be concerned about your individual right to do what you want to do and be who you want to be. Unfortunately, a lot of this thrust does not take into consideration that you must live in relationship with others. Therefore, it is necessary that you must give consideration to the rights of others to be who they are as well as who you are. We can't live in isolation. We have to consider the well-being of others as well as ourselves.
The way out of this quagmire for people of faith is to understand that who we are will be developed and become evident as we do as Jesus said--love him enough to keep his word. Accept the teachings of God's Spirit that are given to us.
God's Spirit is able to teach us in all areas of human experience. I saw evidence of this as a youth. I saw people who could not read anything except the Bible; miraculously, the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to read Scripture. On one occasion when I was riding with my godson who was learning to play the piano, he expressed that when the Spirit is upon him, sometimes he plays music that he normally does not have the ability to play. Yes, God's Spirit can and will teach us in all areas of our lives. We can be who we are--who God wants us to be--as we live by the word of Jesus, as we depend upon the presence of God's Spirit within us.
It is true that each of us wants to express who we are. That is the way God has created us as people. But as people of faith, our responsibility is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's ministry to us, to be sensitive to the Spirit's presence so that we could be who we are in continuing the ministry of Jesus upon the earth. Jesus was challenging his disciples to such a responsibility. He was not going to be with them in the physical body soon, but the Holy Spirit was going to be sent to help them continue in ministry. He wanted them to be sensitive to God's Spirit and not to be fearful as they do ministry. The Spirit would be there as a source of help for them.
Rev. Charles Tinsley is a dear friend. Charles serves as a Chaplain at the Juvenile System in Martinez, CA. One of the young men under his care had a desire to go to college but had no finances and thought that he would be unable to attend college because of his prison record. Charles felt an urging from the Spirit to assist this young man. From that beginning, he developed a program--a ministry--with Knoxville College to assist ultimately 24 young people getting into that school. This is now a regular part of the ministry that God brings forth through him. Rev. Tinsley discovered who he was--not just a chaplain but also a person who God wanted to use to assist young people in the juvenile system to get a higher education. When you have conversation with him about this ministry, he bubbles over with joy for how the Spirit has opened doors for the success of this ministry.
These are the days, my friends, that we the church--as individuals and as a body--need to be intentional about who we are in ministry together with God's Spirit. God can use us. God will use us. There are so many in our world today who are seeking to be who they are; they're using many means, various means, to find out "Who am I? What is my purpose?" And God wants to use us to be instruments to help people who are seeking.
Are you willing to be open to be that channel of the living God? Oh, what a blessing it is. Jesus came and taught us and showed us how to be God's instrument in the world in the community where we find ourselves. I challenge each of us to know that the Spirit has been given to us to enable us to be all that God wants us to be. Who are we? Who are you? You are a child of the Spirit. Do you want to be who you are, who God sees you to be? Then open yourself up to the presence of the Spirit of the living God of the universe. My friends, it is prayer time for the church. It is action time for the church. God wants to use our lives.
To God be the glory now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Let us pray. Everlasting God, God of Jesus Christ, God of our salvation, we thank you for your Spirit, the Spirit of truth which lives inside our hearts. O God, make your Spirit strong in us. Give us the courage to allow your Spirit to flow through our lives into our experiences so that you might be all that you want to be in the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we thank you for his life in us. Amen.