Perhaps the finest book on the Holy Spirit, apart from what we read in Scripture, is Clark Pinnock’s Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. I consistently find myself recommending it to people in my church, at conferences, and pretty much anywhere else I go. Yes, it’s that great, practical, and easy to grasp. (Did you click the link and purchase it yet?)
One of the challenges that Pinnock raises concerning the nature and calling of the Church is related to how the Spirit impacts our vocation, our “job,” so to speak.
God did not pour the Spirit out for us to exult in it as a private benefit. The purpose was (and is) to empower witnesses to God’s kingdom (Acts 1:8). God justifies and saves individuals only to give them a vocation in the service of the kingdom. He awakens a knowledge of the truth in people in order to conscript them into the service of mission. God wants a community that, like Jesus, gets caught up in the transformation of the world. The church is the provisional representation of God’s call to humanity, and like Jesus it exists for the world and nonmembers of the church.” (p. 141)
Did you read that? The Church is the representation of God’s call to humanity. That call is, in fact, an invitation. You and I, as followers of Jesus, represent King Jesus and his kingdom and our vocation is to represent him well by inviting everyone to come to experience the radical and unrelenting love of God.
As the Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit, and the Spirit sends us to point people to Jesus and say, “Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life” (Rev. 22:17). We invite people to encounter the risen Christ, Lord of all!
What I love about thinking through the implications of the Spirit being sent in order to empower our being sent is that we can immediately partner with God in his work. One need not be a follower of Jesus for decades or have an advanced theological degree in order to speak the words and do the works of Jesus! As we say in the Vineyard, “Everyone gets to play.” Individuals within the collective Body of Christ, the Church, have the opportunity to invite people to Jesus from the very beginning of their relationship with God! What a tremendous honor!
One story that reminds me of this is when Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman in John 4. After Jesus engages her, breaking every cultural code in existence at the time, he demonstrated his role as a prophet of God by revealing aspects of her life that he couldn’t know naturally, thanks to the power of the Spirit, namely that she was a victim of and participating in a cycle of unhealthy sexual relationships. Then he shared with the woman what God was at work doing and reveals his identity as the long-awaited Messiah.
And what did she do? John writes:
“The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone” (John 4:28)
I think it’s safe to say that the Samaritan woman started sharing her new found faith in Jesus within thirty minutes of encountering him. She ran back to her village and she told everyone,
“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
Come and see Jesus. Come and see for yourself if what I say is true.
The Church’s vocation is to, by the power of the Holy Spirit, invite the world to come and experience God’s work of redemption, encountered through repentance, faith, trust, and radical risk taking!
- As this is only one aspect of the Church’s vocation, what would you add to the “job” of the Church? Or what other aspects of serving God’s mission are important to you? Why?
- What are the challenges of inviting people to “come and see” Jesus?
- How might the Church become more engaged in the work of God’s kingdom?