As Christians, there are two fundamental messages that we receive from God and two types of calls from the Holy Spirit.
The two messages are: 1) I love you! 2) Go and love!
There is this tension in Christian spirituality between God saying “I love you!” and “Go and love others!” In essence, God is saying “I love you, now go and do something about it!” Besides that, we can experience voluntary and involuntary calls of the spirit.
Let’s look at the two messages first. The first message is
I love you!
From the very beginning, God has been communicating “I love you and I’m with you!” One way of doing that is creation. Thankfully, science is continuing to discover more and more of how awesome God’s creation really is.
Shekinah is a Hebrew word and means the dwelling presence or settling of God.
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out–until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
1 Kings 8:10-11
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
The incarnation of God (see John 1) is so amazing because he wants to tell us “I love you and I’m with you!” When it says, “… made his dwelling among us.” in John 1:14 then this can be translated “… ‘tabernacled’ among us”. God came to dwell in his divine presence among us!
Why would the message ‘I love you!’ create fear? Because it means total vulnerability; I have to completely open myself to God and this is a scary thought.
Even if I still have to confess the same things decades later, the message is still the same: “I love you!”
The second message is
It’s about accepting God’s love and passing it on.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Even in the great commission as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 we hear that same message: “I love you and I will be with you! Now, go and love!”
1 John 4:19-21
We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
We have something to give because it has been given to us.
The Kingdom of God is a light to the nations. What does it mean to bring the kingdom of God to this world? It certainly means making disciples as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-20, but is that it? No, it takes everything that we have and are. If we don’t grow up and mature, we will not thrive. Is that scary? Yes, it is!
Going and loving also provokes fear!
Two calls of the spirit: voluntary vs involuntary
How does the spirit speak to us?
- Scripture & prayer – personal intimacy with God
- Opens/closes doors
- Other people
With the voluntary calls of the Holy Spirit, I have a choice to say yes or no. That choice in itself can be hugely challenging as can be the consequences of our choice. The involuntary calls of the Spirit only leave me the choice of how I’m going to react to the circumstances that I find myself in.
How do we face fears with faith?
- Eyes where they belong: on God
- Remember who God is
- Open and close doors
- Chose love over fear
- God’s character
- God’s promises
- God’s faithfulness
- Didactic passages
The good thing to know is that God will provide and see us through! Not only that, He will bless our faith in ways that we could not have imagined before.
More by David Pocta