The Christian is one who is “in Christ.” She or he walks in the way of Jesus. The Christian is a person who dedicates their life, all of it, to becoming more like him.
Pentecost Sunday is the day we remember that we are not simply “in Christ.” It is a day to remember that the only way I can be in Christ is to have Christ in me. And the way to have Christ in me is by the Spirit of Christ.
But we like to keep Jesus at a distance. That is our problem. As long as he doesn’t come too close and start messing with areas that actually change our living, we feel fine. This is the rub.
This paradox sets me to wondering. When God gives someone his Spirit, they never get only part of the Spirit. They get all, everything. Yet, how is it that the God who graciously gives us everything only gets part of me because I cannot stop holding something back?
How do I know I’m holding something back?
I know because the Spirit whispers a call to more faith in my heart. The need for more faith is a sign that I have more room to grow in Christlikeness. I am that “you of little faith” Jesus bespoke. Jesus, on the other hand, had great faith.
The main expressions of his faith were not when he walked on water and calmed the sea. His greatest acts of faith were when he forgave sinners like me and believed they could change. He forgave murderers and believed they could become people of peace. He forgave our infidelities while at the same time believing we could live faithfully. What faith!
Do I do the same? No, I do not. I look at those who hurt me and condemn them to playing out a destructive role indeterminately. Far from believing in change, I scarcely believe in forgiveness!
So, how is it that I have the Spirit of Christ in me but continue to live this way, failing to forgive and persisting to condemn? It is because the Spirit does not have all of me. It is because I have yet to learn that the Spirit of Christ does not condemn. It is because I need to exercise more faith that if I love my enemy (as Jesus taught me to do) God is big enough to be my defender, should my enemy abuse the grace I offer.
Spirit of Christ, help me trust you more; help me love as Jesus does—with no reserve.