God sent us a lifesaver

given on Sunday, May 15, 2016–Pentecost Sunday

Scripture connection: Romans 8:14-17, NLT

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.[c] So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. . . .

. . . That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) 10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[d] because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Reflection:

Surely you have heard the adage, If someone offers you a breath meant, take it.” From our perspective, we may not think we have bad breath, but from those around us, the truth may be different—we may have bad breath.

If you are on a boat, you are expected to wear a life preserver. If someone offers you one, you put it on. You may not need it, but the life preserver protects you from any unfortunate trial while on the boat. The friends who offered you the life preserver are doing whatever possible to protect you.

God sent his son Jesus Christ as our personal lifesaver. How can we possibly ignore this gift? Much less, God went one step farther in assuring that we are never alone—he sent a personal advocate, the Holy Spirit. Once we accept Christ as our redeemer, we also accept the responsibility to live Christ-like lives. We are to offer life preservers to others.

Observing Pentecost in today’s worship service reminds us of the responsibility we have to live Christ-like lives at all times. This is tough work. We do not always anticipate what God wants us to do, but living our faith out loud provides others models of God’s life-saving love for us.

Others also witness how we accept the responsibility to love one another, as we want to be loved. This means we will do whatever we can for whomever we can whenever we can, just like John Wesley asks us to do. This operating system is not simple so thank goodness God sent us the life preserver also known as the Holy Spirit.

The chorus in, Let Them See Me clearly explains that others are watching us and we need to make sure that what others see how God works through us:

Let them see You in me let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You, let them see You in me

Each verse in the hymn serves as a reminder of how God want us to live. Even when all the trappings in our lives are removed and we are stripped back to the very core of who we are, others should see God in us.

Studying the book of Revelation through the insight of N. H. Wright, the connection to the Holy Spirit and God’s expectations for our life mission—singularly and as a community—is inseparable. God hates evil and he commissioned us to do all we can possibly do to eradicate evil. Evil hovers at the edge of our lives just waiting for an opportunity to step in and destroy our God-centered life filled with grace and love and beauty.

As complicated as Revelation’s figurative and symbolic language is to us today, the message never changes. God placed upon his human creation the responsibility to care for the entire world he placed us in. He is not giving up on us; he just equips us for the job. The Holy Spirit, the breathe of God, is the fuel, the skills, the language, and the drive we need to be God’s representative right here, right now:

Let them see You in me let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You, let them see You in me

These words echo in our minds as we turn our lives over to God and he breathes on us. God offers us a lifesaver, an Advocate, known as the Holy Spirit. We even recognize him in others regardless of their heritage, their language, or their station in life because the Holy Spirit is love.

Have you accepted Jesus in your life? Maybe you are asking yourself if saying it means it is true. Accepting Jesus means living the Christ-like life God asks you to live. Do you live knowing that you have been given a life preserver? Do you live a life that reflects God’s grace and love so others “can see God in you”? Do your words sound like Jesus’ words of compassion, grace, healing, and love?

The story of Pentecost as described in Acts 2, may defy our human understanding, but the Holy Spirit can make us able to find ways to share God’s message and to do God’s work in ways that others can “see him” in us. The Holy Spirit does not segregate, either. The Holy Spirit erases the differences of gender, age, culture, economics, and education. The Holy Spirit is for everybody who accepts Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.

Accept God’s gift of the Holy Spirit and then depend on it. The gift is not a quick fix for all the struggles we face in our lives, but the Holy Spirit equips us for those struggles. Our responsibility is to be disciplined in our Christian faith. We are to worship, to study the Word, to stay in conversation with God through our prayers, and we are to reach out to others in all the ways that we can. Living our lives so others see God in us will battle evil that threatens to destroy God’s world.

Closing prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for loving us so much you sent Jesus to save us.
May we live so others see you.

Thank you for trusting us to do your work.
May our actions show others your love.

Thank you for equipping us with the Holy Spirit.
May we live so others may experience your saving grace. –Amen

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