Thursday, September 17, 2015

Spirit-Filled Ministry

The Tribe in which I travel often thinks of Spirit-Filled ministry in terms of what is described in Acts chapter 2, that Day of Pentecost when the Church was born in that Upper Room. They were waiting just as Jesus had promised, and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit; they spoke in tongues, and boldly proclaimed the Gospel.

While I agree that Acts 2 is vitally important, it isn’t by any means the first time that the Holy Spirit shows up in the Bible, not the first time people were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The way I read it, the first time that the term “filled with the Spirit” shows up in the Bible is in Exodus chapter 31. It isn’t ascribed to Adam or Noah, not to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph, not even to Moses or Aaron. It isn’t ascribed to a prophet or priest or any other clergy the first time; the first one “filled with the Spirit” was Bezalel.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:1-5)

When it comes to church work, it seems we generally think of the clergy as the ones really filled with the Spirit, those who preach and teach and prophecy and pray and sing and such. All of these should be filled with the Spirit, of course. But isn’t it interesting that the first recipients of the Spirit’s infilling are those who work with their hands? Bezalel was filled with the Spirit to lead and design and work. Oholiab was filled with the Spirit to stand at Bezalel’s side to help him. And a presumably large number of workers were filled with the Spirit to accomplish all the work set before them by the Lord.

And so it is should be in our congregations. In our church I trust people sense that those who pastor and preach and teach are filled with the Spirit. But it isn’t merely the pastors. When Mark runs cables to repair the projector, and makes plans to improve our sound system, Mark is filled with the Spirit. When Gail bakes cookies, pouring love into each morsel that will be enjoyed by friends and tangibly welcomes our guests, Gail is filled the Spirit. When Eugene shows up at just the right time to lend a hand, Eugene is filled with the Spirit. When Charlene lovingly folds and collates bulletins every Thursday morning so that they are ready to welcome folk on the weekend, Charlene is filled with the Spirit. When Merlin artistically captures an image that so wonderfully communicates what it can mean to be part of our congregation, Merlin is filled with the Spirit. And on and on it goes.

Let’s be sure to acknowledge the Spirit’s filling and the Spirit’s work through all that we do. Let’s encourage it in those around us. And let’s be sure to open our own hearts and heads and hands as the Spirit fills each of us for the Lord’s good worth through us.

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