Last night I had wonderful fellowship with fellow believers. During our meeting, we laid hands and prayed over a young man. Almost immediately, God presence could be felt. God was all around us and moving on this young man. After the prayer, his countenance was completely changed. He was glowing. It was quite evident that God was working deeply in his heart and spirit.
Later, as I was in bed thinking of these things, I began to ponder how God’s Spirit moves. Was this a filling of the Spirit? Or, a baptism of the spirit? And, why was God’s Spirit more palpable once we started praying? The moment the group gathered, God’s Spirit was there. But, when he began to work in this young man’s life, it was like his volume knob was being turned up. I think everyone felt it. God wasn’t just moving on this young man. He was moving inside each person in that room.
I’ve heard all kinds of explanations for how God’s Spirit moves. People throw around ideas like indwelling, filling, and baptism. Some people claim God’s Spirit is with a person when they’re saved, and then at a later point endues them with greater power. People throw around big words, and sometimes their explanations sound more like a magical, spiritual carnival ride than something I can wrap my mind around. So, last night, was this young man filled or baptized in the Spirit?
Maybe things become simpler if we just consider the words and take them literally. Filled means something is put into something else. For example, I can fill a cup with water. Maybe that is all the filling of the Spirit is. Maybe it’s simply God coming into the inside of us. Once there, he begins to change us from the inside—transforming our heart, our mind, and our spirit.
Baptized comes from a Greek word that means being immersed into something. So, let’s say I take that cup and put it in a swimming pool. The cup is now baptized in water. It is surrounded by water. But, it is also filled with water. Maybe that’s how God’s Spirit works. He fills us, working on the inside. But, he also surrounds us—changing the atmosphere. That’s really what it felt like last night. As the water of God’s Spirit rose, we could each feel it overflow the lip of our spiritual cup. And, once the water level was that high, it began to flow in.
I’ve found these types of experiences are common with this group. Certainly this could happen while someone is alone. I’ve had similar experiences while all alone. But, it seems to happen more readily in a group. To use a water analogy, more water can flow when more pipes are open.
But, why is it so common in this group? In this group, we have no formal liturgy, sermon, or order of service. Everyone is free to share, free to operate within their gifts, free to ask questions, and free to fully participate. To use a water analogy, there’s not only more pipes, but because each person is free to operate, the valve on each pipe is easily opened. The water of the Spirit flows.
The group has no hierarchy. There’s no clergy-laity distinction. When there is hierarchy, God’s Spirit can flow, but it can’t flow as easily. Those in the clergy position function like a main water pipe, and those in the laity often rely on the flow from the main pipe. While the laity doesn’t have to function that way (they can have their own independent valve to God’s Spirit), the flow is usually routed through the main pipes, because only a select few share, lead, and control. Without hierarchy, pipes generally flow side by side, with each pipe increasing the amount that can flow. With hierarchy, at least some of the pipes are laid end to end. When pipes are laid end to end, the flow can only equal the capacity of the smaller pipe.
Have I figured all these mysteries out? No. And, I certainly haven’t come to any conclusions with this blog. Basically, it’s just me thinking aloud and hoping to start a dialogue. So, what are your thoughts?