Friday, February 27, 2015
“May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” This is the blessing that we often hear at the close of worship service. We can easily understand the first two parts. The “grace of Jesus” is the grace that the Lord Jesus showers upon us (“he loved his own and he loved them to the end” --John 13), it is also the grace his Father lavishes upon him, Jesus, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
In the same way, the phrase the “love of God” is straightforward. Both the Old and New Testaments are filled with news of the love of God, “you are honored and precious in my sight,” God says, “and I love you, I give man in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.” (Isaiah 43)
What, however, is the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit?” I learn that the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” could be said to be the true friendship and friendliness of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we forget what a friend the Holy Spirit really is. He is with us all the way. His spirit is with our spirit, right alongside us. (Romans 8:16) He is there with us when all have forgotten and abandoned us. He lifts us up from the deepest pit and revives us again. (8:10-11) He intercedes for us with “sighs too deep for words.” The Spirit makes common cause with us. So you see, when the blessing is given that the people may have the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” we are being blessed so that we too might have this same friendship and common cause with one another. Many years ago I read of a church where many people had debts on their credit cards. It was a terrible problem. But then one day, the minister realized that something wonderful could be done. A big glass jar was placed on the communion table. One family was chosen by lot to come and put their credit card in the glass jar. Then when the offering time came around, the people came forward and put money in the bowl, as much as they could. Every Sunday they did that, until there was enough money to pay off the family’s entire debt. Then it all started all over again with another family chosen at random; and one wonderful Sunday, the entire congregation was free from debt. Sometimes we forget that love and friendship in the Bible is not only the feeling we have in our hearts; it is action too. The people in that church made true common cause with one another, opening their wallets and sharing what they had. Sometimes where we spend money shows where our hearts really are. The heart of the Holy Spirit is with us all the way. He is with us even when we make bed in Sheol (Psalm 139). He raises us up on eagle’s wings. He never fails or forsakes us. But it doesn’t end there. Just as the Holy Spirit is our friend, we are empowered by the Lord to be friends with one another.