May 19th – Appropriating What God Has Already Given



A Roman Catholic scholar was asked ‘Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit?’ “Yes” he said. “When?” he was asked, and his answer revealed a defence of his church’s teaching and a profound insight for any Christian of any church. “I was baptised in the Holy Spirit when I was baptised in water.” By this he mant when he was christened as a baby.That was the orthodox doctrine. “But”, he went on “it has taken me all these years to appropriate what God gave me then”.
I repeat it: “it has taken me all these years to appropriate what God gave me then”.

This is not for me a satisfying explanation of the different initiation ceremonies or the various churches, but it does remind me that when God acts on us, and in us, we do not always immediately accept all he has to bestow upon us. Yes, part of this is growing up, for there are some clothes one can’t wear until one is big enough, but also part of the issue is how our lack of faith limits the things God wants to do in us and with us. Like Peter Pan, we don’t want to grow up. We take the first instalment to be the entire package.

Please excuse a personal confession. I was baptised as a believer in my teens. I understood so little at that time that years later, when God had got to me in a million different ways, I had the opportunity of tackling the minister who baptised me. I accused him “You never told me about baptism in the Holy Spirit, nor about spiritual gifts. Neither you nor the church laid hands on me in prayer … surely you baptised me too soon.” He simply said “If I had not baptised you then, you never would have been”. Now I’d never thought of that. So for me baptism wasn’t meant to be the climax of a living faith, but the first step of a new beginning into God’s country. I was so slow to appropriate what God had already provided. It took me years and years, and I am still working on it.
“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6: 3-4

A Prayer:
Today, I thank you God that even when I don’t understand my commitment to you, you understand your commitment to me, even when it takes me my entire lifetime.

Now read Acts 8: 26-40.

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Thought 4 The Day

Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. (Aldous Huxley)

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May 2016
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