This month the church celebrates Pentecost, it gives thanks to God for sending His Holy Spirit to equip His church to live out the gospel they were entrusted with and share that gospel in the world around them.
The sending of the Spirit is something that is so important to the followers of Jesus that Jesus himself takes time to speak of it to His disciples in the hours leading up to His arrest and crucifixion. When so much of such importance is taking place Jesus recognises that His followers need to be aware of the gift that God is going to send them. Part of the purpose of this gift is for teaching and guidance. The Holy Spirit will remind the disciples of all that Jesus has said, helping them understand what needs to be done to faithfully follow Jesus in the many situations they will find themselves in.
It is not the only purpose however, as there is a relational aspect which is also central. Jesus informs His followers that they will not be left as orphans. They will not be abandoned by God to make their own way in the world as best they can, rather, just as a child can enjoy the loving presence and provision of his or her parents, so the disciples will continue to know the direct presence of God, who will live with them and in them. One of the images that comes strongly out of this, is the picture of intimacy, a close family relationship with unrestricted access between the disciples of Jesus and their Heavenly Father. The gift of the Holy Spirit provides a personal loving link.
One of the things that we want to do as followers of Jesus Christ is develop the practice of intimacy with God, we want to enjoy the privilege of relationship with him, not just as a now and again thing but as the central aspect of our lives (out of which everything else then flows). That’s one of the reasons why Rachel and I have set aside time in our schedule to spend time in prayer, a time that is open to any who want to join us (it’s 7:30-8:30 on Tuesday mornings). We also, as a church, have looked to make intimacy with God a central aspect of our monthly evening service, where we deliberately give time over to praise God and receive from Him, as well as having the opportunity to share about the things that he is doing in our lives.
Of course it isn’t only in our gathered times that we can, or should, be looking at this intimacy with God it is something which is given to enrich every part of our lives, including at home and at work. Intimacy with God is an amazing privilege, it is a fantastic gift that brings assurance and encouragement. As we celebrate the reality of Pentecost let us consciously choose to receive the full blessing that God intended and still intends it to be.