Under the Influence
Acts 2:4,13 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit… But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
For those of us who have lived out some public destruction or addiction, it is, I think, common for those around us to always wonder. If we have a bad day there will always be those who think, Hmmm…. Under the influence? We may perceive this as unfair, but as it took some time and effort to build a destructive reputation, it takes some time to turn it around. It is only in living under the influence of something new, that other’s will see the genuine change.
Several times a week, I have the opportunity, whether it is in clinic or in jail, to tell my story. It is a fairly simple story that always goes something like this: I came to know great misery and destruction under the influence of drugs. Now, I know life and peace under the influence of God. God saved me from myself, so just as I once went to great lengths to fill myself with pills, I now make a purposeful, daily effort to fill myself with the spirit of God.
In today’s passage, on the day of Pentecost, the disciples met with this spirit of God. When Jesus left, He promised He would send God’s spirit take his place. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 1:8). This was God’s purpose all along. Christ’s death, sacrifice and forgiveness made his disciples righteous, so that God could live in them. On the day of Pentecost, this plan came to fruition as God’s spirit filled his followers. The result was apparently quite dramatic.
The disciples began speaking in languages they had not previously known, telling of God’s mighty works. Some were amazed at hearing of God in their own language. Still others questioned their sobriety, They are not filled with God. They are drunk…
This is to be the effect that God has on us. It is to be an obvious difference from our previous self. Where we once pursued pornography, money, status, affirmation, pride, drugs, or toys, we now are to pursue God. Where we once filled ourselves with the pleasures of the flesh, we are now to fill ourselves with the spirit.
I do not like remembering how hard I worked at getting pills. It shames me to think how much effort I put into my destruction. Just as I spent that much time and energy pursuing the pleasures of my flesh, I am now to put that much time and effort into pursuing God in me.
How do I do this? Paul said we are to daily sow the seeds of the spirit (Galatians 6:7,8). We have this continual choice to pursue the flesh, sowing the seeds of destruction or, we can pursue God’s spirit, sowing the seeds of life.
This is no mystery. For me, it is painfully practical. When I get up in the morning to pray, read and meditate, I am sowing God’s spirit in me. If I get up and go to work without doing this, I am not filling myself with God. When I am not filling myself with God, I am automatically filling myself with me. If I desire to live under the influence of God, I need to drink deeply of him.