Do We Have To Do All the Work?

I’ve been brought up a Free Methodist.  I’m proud of my heritage.  Proud of my connection to this amazing group of saints.  I love the church.  Please keep in mind that I’m not bashing the church or the Free Methodist Denomination.  I’m simply sharing how things look through my own personal lens.  Not a “this is the way it is”, but “this is what I see, think, and perceive”.  That’s my disclaimer.  Now on to what I’m thinking.

As a Free Methodist, evangelical, and Wesleyan Armenian, I’ve been brought up to believe a few key things.  I do believe them.  But as I’ve come face to face with a filling of the Holy Spirit, I’m rethinking or analyzing some of the things I believe.  One of them came face to face with me yesterday in church.  We’ve been going through a series on the Holy Spirit that I really haven’t heard much on the actual Holy Spirit.  Yesterday, however, we hit Romans 8.  It’s pretty meaty, so you can go many places.  Our pastor finally got to the end and summarized by saying if we want salvation, we need to come and die.  He did a great job of separating the cultural Christianity or easy Christianity with authentic “come and die” faith.

Here’s the problem I was struggling with.  We still haven’t talked about the power of the Holy Spirit or being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Maybe we have and I missed it.  I don’t think we have since it’s pretty up on my soul’s radar.  I guess we’re going to talk about being filled next week.  The issue I have is the idea of what I believe the FM and many evangelical churches do with salvation and being filled.  What I heard yesterday was that to die you have to submit to God, confess sin, and then turn.  The whole idea of repenting.  Yes, totally with this program.  It’s Biblical.  But what comes next with left me frustrated and empty.  It’s the idea that after God’s redeeming power saves us, it’s up to us to turn from our wickedness.  To turn from our sinful nature and clothe ourselves with compassion, etc.  It seems to me that the responsibility for this is on me.  Which seems like a losing proposition given the fact that, well…I’m a sinner and….well….that’s what I do.  Sin.

So, I confess my sin.  I tell God I need newness.  He forgives me.  And now it’s up to me to get my life straightened out to prove myself to God.  I know that’s not Biblical.  But it’s what I’ve come to understand and experience.  Somehow it’s leaked into our culture.  It’s self-defeating and unattainable.  If that’s real faith, forget it.  It’s a sinking ship.  It’s a crazy train I need to get off of.

My question is:  Where does the Holy Spirit come in with His power?  Doesn’t He have some role in cleaning up the mess of my life?  Scripture talks about the power of the Holy Spirit.  It seems to me that there is more to this transaction than me simply confessing and telling God I’ll do my best and hope for the best.  I read the Scriptures and see God pursuing us.  Protecting us.  Empowering us.  If I could draw a picture of what I think my spirit looks like today (which I may do sometime), I’d draw a picture of a little boy laying on the ground with Jesus huddled over me with a cloak covering me while demons and darkness try to invade.  A picture of a life “hidden in Christ”.

I may be missing the mark, but as I’ve been reading lately in Scripture, there’s power.  Unlimited supply.  From the Holy Spirit.  It’s a bit mysterious.  But it’s there.  Waiting for us to open our hearts and give Him the green light for as Dallas Willard calls some “Renovation of the Heart”.  It can’t be all about us trying our hardest, can it?  Cause if it is, I’m out.  But I know it’s not.  That’s why all my chips are in, baby.  Thoughts?

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