Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Ask, I Answer, Take 4

That's right folks, it's time for another installment of You Ask, I Answer.  Today's question comes from Johanna again.  She asks:

Do you think it is important to be baptized in the Holy Spirit after you have given your life to Christ?

I'll be honest with you, and say that my answer is "I don't know."

My faith journey looks something like this:
  • Raised in a fairly conservative evangelical culture, as a pastor's kid
  • experienced a lot of good and a lot of bad that comes with Christianity as a result of being a pastor's kid
  • introduced early to attack Christianity, at the age of 10, when the church dad was pastoring went through a brutal split, and he resigned and planted the church that he still pastors today
  • struggled a lot with the feelings of pressure that came with being a pastor's kid
  • transitioned into public school for jr. high after being homeschooled, and spent some pretty brutal years dealing with vicious girls in the youth group
  • attended a Catholic high school, not sure at this point if I even believe in God, but compelled to defend my protestant beliefs in a myriad of intellectual lunchtime discussions, while really wanting nothing more than to escape faith and it's burdens
  • got involved with Young Life in 12th grade - met a great friend in the woman who was my leader and felt seen and cared for for who I was and my own walk with God and not who my dad was and his role in the church for the first time in my life;  still totally wrestling with faith
  • just before my 18th birthday, I was baptized.  It wasn't so much that I had answers, as it was that in my own logical evaluation, it would be more of a problem to drop everything I'd believed for 18 years, than it would be to simply subscribe to it.
  • in the first years of University I got involved with a small church that was growing, mostly composed of students and twenty somethings and was exploring "Holy Spirit"
  • I met people there who had something I'd never seen before.  These people really "knew" Jesus.
  • I was struggling with severe depression, and also longing for this relationship that my new friends had with Jesus.  The combination led to some pretty rough years.
  • While studying in university, I began to be fascinated by liturgical traditions of the church, studying them as part of my specialization in European church history, particularly in the Reformation and post-reformation periods.
  • In my last year of university, sitting in a car, I encountered the Holy Spirit in a powerful, supernatural way, and my depression was healed.
  • My life entered new kinds of turmoil and upheaval as my journey with God took some more crazy twists and turns, including a variety of experiences with prayer, dreams and visions, and other interesting encounters with the spiritual realm and it has stayed that way ever since that moment of healing almost six years ago.
So, these days I guess you could categorize me as a liturgy loving, evangelical, charismatic with a soft spot for the mystical and anything to do with prayer.

What, you ask, does that have to do with the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Well, it's like this - my experiences and personal journey and experiences have shaped my beliefs.  I don't believe that there is something special - some unique baptism of the Spirit, per say.  I believe that the Spirit is present with all of us.  That said, if what you mean by baptism of the Holy Spirit is a particular moment or encounter when the Spirit goes from being the more traditionally evangelical silent member of the trinity, at most recognized as our conscience, to being a living and active part of our relationship and interaction with God, then yes, I do pray that all those who know Jesus will also experience this baptism of the Spirit that He sent to us as counselor, guide and comforter.  However, I don't believe that this looks the same for everyone, or that it happens at a specific time or moment.  For me, it happened the day I was healed, and it was about being in a place where I was desperate enough to surrender.  For friends of mine, it's looked totally different.  But I do pray that everyone will somehow experience, in the way unique to their own hearts and relationships with the Lord, an active relationship with the Spirit.

Thoughts?  I'm not interested in a big theological debate, but I'd love to hear your thoughts (keep them civil please), or to know if this has stirred more questions for you.  Like I keep saying, this feature will be around for as long as the questions come in, and I'm willing to talk about just about any topic you want to bring up here.


Miss said...

Amen, sister.
That's a lovely, thoughtful response. I happen to agree with all you've written. That makes it easy :0)

I'm still not sure if I "know" Jesus. Which is weird since I've been a Christian since around 18 (well, before then really, since I grew up going to church until I dipped out in my teen years). But I know I wouldn't be here without him, so I guess he knows me, and for that I'm grateful.

Blessings from the other side of the pond.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering. :-) I really like your response. I also aggree with you on a lot of the things. Aaah, it's difficult to say something so complex in a language, that is not your native language... But I try...
I'm very sure, that a lot of the conservative churches/believers in Germany don't give the Holy Spirit the role in their church life/services he deserves, that's why there isn't very much 'growth/revival'.
The 'free' churches in Germany are also very different, some are very Holy Spirit centered, some not. There are a lot of discussions, if the Holy Spirit enters your life automatically after you've given your life to Christ or not. Jesus for example was baptized and then the Holy Spirit came. Some say that someone has to lay hands on you and has to pray for you, that you receive the Holy Spirit. I don't think (but also don't know)if that this is really necessary. In my life it wasn't like that. But I'm very sure that the Holy Spirit lives in me and I'm learning to have an active relationship with him, to hear his whispers... What I definitely believe is that you need to be constantly filled by the Holy Spirit, there's a scripture in the Bible that says that very clear (Ephesians 5,18 b). I don't think that you need someone to help you with this, but it can of course help. But asking and praying to him to fill you anew every day is sufficient. When we interact with people, streams of living waters flow from us, so we might get empty, so thats the reason we need the Holy Spirit anew every day and I think he needs to be asked and than surely he comes. He's a person, one part of the trinity, like you said. Like a person he can be ignored, he communicates, he can be hurted and so on...
Ok, many words, don't know if I said what I wanted to say. :-) Hope you understand what I wanted to say. ;-)
Have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a very good teaching about the Holy Spirit from Ron McKenzie:

Lisa said...

Jenny - I love your answer :) Especially the bit about Jesus knowing you!

Johanna - I'll have to check that teaching out when I have some time. And yes, churches here are all very different in their approaches to the Holy Spirit as well. I also agree that we need to be continually filled and must make a point of seeking that from the Lord :)

Thanks for adding to the discussion, ladies!