If the Spirit took the lead…

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Throughout the New Testament we find that the Holy Spirit takes an active role in the story of the people of God. The Spirit actively works throughout the cosmos, the church, and persons to lead this world toward its eventual goal: new creation. Yet in my own experiences I often assign a passive role to God’s Spirit. Well, at least as it depends on our free will I suppose since nothing in Scripture suggests that God is ever inactive. Even so, more often than I would like to admit, I invite the Spirit to take the position of spectator as I go along with my everyday life.

Romans 8.14 states: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

The ultimate evidence that one is truly a child of God are those who live as though the Holy Spirit functions as the director of the drama we find ourselves in. As actors, we enjoy the privilege of using our uniqueness to portray the part in God’s redemptive story that we’ve been given to play. Our role involves improvisation, because unlike most theatrical performances, the writing of the script takes place with every single choice, interaction, thought, and action. In other words, as we move forward towards God’s eventual new creation, the path to getting there involves a communal effort to be people who are in fact led by the Spirit.

With this in mind, I started pondering what life would look like if the Spirit took the lead.

If the Spirit took the lead…

  • The “every day” would seem less routine as our moments were interrupted by internal promptings to show the love of Jesus to people in regular situations.
  • No one would feel like an outsider in our church communities.
  • Miraculous signs and wonders would be “normal.”
  • We would no longer feel the need to live in excess as the simplicity of a Spirit-filled life would compel us to live with less, so more can live.
  • Life in various relational spheres would be full of grace as over-reactions and conflict would be minimized.
  • Petty theological differences would be overshadowed by the tangible outflow of our mutual mission to see every crevice of creation transformed by Jesus.
  • The margins would feel like the center.
  • Peacemaking would be part of our friendships, marriages, work environments, politics, and confrontations.
  • Evangelism would “just happen” because non-Christians would be intrigued with our counter-cultural way of life.

These are some initial thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. How would you end the following sentence: If the Spirit took the lead… ?

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  • Twallek

    our actions and attitudes would possess the reality of God’s presence. This is the defining difference.

  • Jean

    This conversation came up in one of our Adult Sunday School classes and the question posed was, “Do you know anyone who is living a Spirit led life?”  One women was brave enough to respond and said, no, she didn’t know anyone living this way. Her answer puzzled and troubled me because I know a lot of the same people she does! I had to ask myself, So, what does it look like to be living by the Spirit?

    I like the examples you have given and agree with them and just want to add that because so much of our lives are spent doing pretty ordinary stuff like working, cooking, repairing, studying, parenting, etc. I think we tend to overlook the ordinary ways the Spirit leads us. Perhaps we feel what we’re doing in our daily work is not really “Kingdom” work so we aren’t as aware of how the Spirit might be leading in these situations. 

    I’ve never gone back to the woman in the Sunday school class to ask what her definition of being Spirit led was but I would say it’s when we are being renewed by the Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our minds which, in turn, shapes our responses to everyday circumstances and people.

  • Not only would evangelism “just happen” because the world would see us differently, but evangelism would “just happen” because we would actually listen to the Spirit prompting us not only to share, but also what to share.  The Holy Spirit knows what those around us need way better than we do….
    Good, thought provoking post.

  • If the Spirit took the lead, our worship services would leave us in awe, humble us to tears, and stir us to act. If the Spirit took the lead, our churches would be full. If the Spirit took the lead, we wouldn’t be searching for ways to be relevant – the Spirit is always relevant.

  • From my cousin Shelly on Facebook (just had to copy and paste this one!):

    “One of my old teachers (and favorites) is
    currently visiting a YWAM base in Nigeria and her FB status yesterday
    was literally: “NEWSFLASH!! WOMAN JUST RAISED FROM THE DEAD! The base
    leader and one of the young staff guys just burst into my guesthouse and
    told the amazing story: a choir member DIED during the church service.
    Amidst the hysterical grief of the church members, they began to
    pray…and after 10 minutes , she sneezed 3 times and sat up! GLORY TO
    GOD! She is on her way over to our house as I type! We’re LIVING in the
    book of Acts!” I think THAT is the sort of stuff that happens when we
    let the Spirit lead us as well! :)”

  • Maggie

    you might find yourself to be a tongue speaker

  • Good stuff here. I think we would understand grace in a much deeper sphere, allowing us to show it more effectively.

    Keep it up!http://legograffiti.wordpress.com/

  • bob ingle

    we’d realize our God given nature (not Calvinist),
    we’d trust our intuitions,
    it would be easy to love people & hate religion,
    we’d lovingly call it the way we see it,
    we’d stop measuring success/failure & trust outcomes,
    we’d stop being Christians and start being like Jesus,
    we’d be Evangelical Rejects (that’s for you Kurt),
    we’d still love Evangelicals,
    we’d know no fear or limits, 
    we’d do justice, love mercy & walk humbly, 
    the people would receive us gladly,
    we’d right the world

    GOSPEL! we can do all this NOW!

  • Justin

    …we would not condemn the innocent.

    (thoroughly enjoy this line of contemplative worship and thinking, thanks.)


  • Brian Hillw9

    i would completely trust even in times of total desperation

  • Anonymous

    Forget if. When the Spirit takes the lead things are unpredictable and do not fit in tidy theological packages. I’ve been living that way for the past 8 years since my conversion (which I did not ask for or pray for or assent to…it happened to me after years of atheism). I wish I could say that life would be smooth, but my years as a Spirit-following Christian have been the hardest years of my life. Coming to faith and following the Spirit has resulted in me losing everything I had and putting everything that meant anything to me on the line. I was happy, comfortable, successful and had no “God shaped hole in my heart” before I came to believe. Now I am challenged, but fulfilled in a very different way. I pray that you will follow this “what if” post with a “why not?” and then a “how to” and then a “how can we claim to be faithful if we’re not living by faith?” so that this very important conversation actually happens.

    • “And everything that could be shaken was shaken
      And all that was left was all we ever really had.” 

  • Wow;

    This is something I’ve been struggling with…

    So why don’t we give the Spirit the lead? I’ve been asking the same question and searching for an answer (and hopefully been growing in the right direction too…) I wonder which things are taking the place the Spirit should be taking. I’ve heard a lot about ‘giving God the first place’, but I’ve never seen someone actually do that, not in following Jesus, nor in ‘living in the Spirit’. And I’m supposed to be part of Charismatic Christianity, hmmm… Are we so distracted and trying to build our own Kingdom instead of being ‘channels’ of Gods Kingdom?

    (When I read the gospels I get frustrated in 2 ways, my Charismatic background asks where the ‘naturally supernatural’ dimension of my life is, my post-emergent neo-anabaptist influence asks when I will live in that radical love sermon on the mount style… I think we need both sides of the gospels.)

    One of the saddest stories I know about this subject is a good friend of mine, who becae a Christian as a twentysomthing, coming from a very alternative background, think hippies, psychedelica, vegetarianism, and playing didgeridoo on the street for a living… Right after his conversion he was one of the most ‘real’ Christians I’ve ever met. That first period was something special, something pure, like a constant connecting with the Holy Spirit, which sometimes led him into special situations with people he’s never met before, being the right person on the right moment. Until he adapted to church that. The people in our small pentecostel and charismatic churches (including me) were in no way as far as he was, but he thought he oculd learn a lot from us, and gradually became ‘churchified’… I don’t want to be negative about my own Church and the other Churches he visited, but we were not ready for such radical undiluted ‘living in the Spirit’, so I guess we possibly couldn’t have helped him growing or even sustaining it. He’s never been able to return to that life of having the spirit present at every moment….

    I don’t know what’s up with us Western Christians? Is it the noise in our lives? We want to be in control, and the world controls us even more? Is it our traditions that have fossilised older moves of the Spirit? 


    • Is it possible to post this one one Emergent village  too? This is something that I’ve been missing in most of the ’emerging church dialogue’ (especially the American Emergent side of the whole thing)  and one of its biggest weaknesses in my humble opinion…

  • Katie Sturm

    When the Spirit takes the lead…
    * We move from fear to faith
    * Our dreams are re-kindled and stirred up
    * We can hear God speaking more clearly – not just TO us, but THROUGH us to others.
    * Shalom becomes a way of life, not an unattainable goal – peace becomes a process and approach, not an end.
    * Our hearts get caught up in the embrace and heartbeat of God towards the world.
    * We embody welcome in such a way that we have no need to invite others into our gatherings, because they’ve already invited us into their lives.
    * We remember and observe
    * Kingdom is no longer something we wait for, but something we carry
    * We can trust and believe that God loves us, trusts us, and has partnered with us
    * We become relentless encouragers with the heart of Barnabas
    * Our presence becomes transformative in shifting paradigms and spiritual atmospheres.
    * We know who we truly are, who and what we’re called to, and the grace and authority that we’ve been given.

  • CarolJean

    If we were led of the Spirit, we would look alot like Jesus.

  • Anonymous

    Joanpball writes: “… When the Spirit takes the lead things are unpredictable and do not fit in tidy theological packages…” I think this such an important thing to remember! There may be ‘seasons in our life’ when the Holy Spirit leads us into-through-and-out-the-other-side utterly messy, perturbing, perplexing situations. (Just look at the New Testament!!) It’s not all sweetness-and- light. His ways are simply NOT our ways… But I’m getting to know – I can totally, totally trust Him.

  • It would be nice….

  • So why do you suppose that this is –or even can be– a hypothetical question?  Even if we who comment aren’t experiencing this, is it plausible that none of us even knows of a place or a group where it’s happening?  I can tell you I don’t…

  • Daniel Anear

    II would make wiser choices and have less pride in, not to mention less regret them

  • Anonymous

    I love what Nadia Bolz-Weber says about the work of the Holy Spirit: 

    “The Holy Spirit is subversive, and one of the things the Spirit does is blur lines that we’re comfortable maintaining. My experience has been that we like to have these lines of liberal and conservative — theologically and socially. I think that people, especially the younger generation, have experienced those lines becoming real blurry and are fine with that. I know that’s true for myself.

    I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to be a part of fundamentalism of the left or the right, mostly because it lacks two things that I can’t do without in my life anymore — which is joy and humility.

    I don’t see a lot of joy and humility in these extreme stances that people take on either side. So I feel like the Spirit moves in the blurring of those distinctions that we all like to have. Every time you meet somebody who’s in a category of conservative or hateful or narrow-minded or fill-in-the-blank, there’s some sort of connection that’s made, and then you have to rethink the category. That’s the work of the Spirit.”

    See: http://blog.sojo.net/2011/09/01/an-interview-with-nadia-bolz-weber/