“We’ve got spirit, yes we do.”
I’ve often had people come up to me after a worship gathering and say something like, “Wow, the Spirit sure was here, wasn’t He?” Or maybe someone will move to Indiana from another state and tell me about their experience where they were at. They’ll say something like, “Dude, the church I just came from — now they had the Spirit.”
Every time I hear a comment like this, I always think of that old cheer you hear at a football game used by one team’s fans to taunt the opposing team’s fans: “We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you?” This traditional cheer conveys that the opponent’s fans’ enthusiasm – their spirit – is weaker and inferior than that of the fans who are shouting the cheer.
I know that no one is intentionally saying what it sounds like they are saying about the Spirit’s work. They likely are not demeaning God’s work at my local church. They probably do mean something to the effect of “feeling” the Spirit more during a particular song, moment, or at a particular church. Maybe the Spirit did manifest Himself in a special way on that particular Sunday and in that particular location. He can do that. He is part of the Trinitarian Godhead.
My fear is that we can fall down that slippery slope that an awesome worship experience equals the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can move mightily in a worship gathering, and I pray every weekend that He does. But we must be careful that we don’t gauge the Spirit’s effectiveness in our church based on how many people are raising their hands.
The Spirit fully indwells a believer at the point of regeneration. When the Spirit indwells us through our faith in Jesus, we get all of Him. I think we can grow in our awareness of Him. I often pray that I would become more and more sensitive and obedient to His leading, but the Spirit is just as much present in the more conservative expressions of worship as He is in the believer that worships without abandon.
The Spirit’s role in a gathering is to point our hearts to Jesus, to cause repentance, conviction, and to take the gospel and make it alive in our hearts. He blows where He wishes. He applies the work of redemption. He does the work of the Father and the Son. He is not our worship genie to grant our three wishes of every hand raised, voices singing out, and everyone engaged (although those would all be great things.)
The Spirit is our helper and comforter. He is in every gospel-preaching church of blood-bought believers. Let’s not be too quick to point the finger and say of the (outwardly) expressively worshiping churches “Oh, the Spirit is really there.” He is where He is supposed to be, doing what He’s supposed to be doing: Leading us, guiding us, comforting us, and groaning with us when we have no words. Yes, the Spirit can do a special work in a church. I pray He does.
While it’s good to pray that the Spirit would manifest Himself in powerful ways, let’s be careful not to always equate a great worship experience with particular manifestations of the Spirit or with having “more of the Spirit.” Instead, let’s simply pray that He would help us make much of Jesus.
I’ve got Spirit, yes I do. If you’re one of the Redeemed, so do you.