Youths and the Spirit

4 Sep

An article written for the youth magazine of Mount Zion Faith Ministries Barbados.

Sometime ago, I noticed a young girl staring at a Christian poster, and I decided to seize the opportunity to talk to her about Jesus. I started with a comment on what she was reading on the poster, which was something about heaven and hell; later realizing she is already a Christian, I veered towards to a much more appropriate topic: spirituality and religion.  Though my occasional stammers told on the fact that I have not evangelized in a while, it didn’t take too long before my little speech became a conversation—a deep one at that. The petite girl, who is probably in her mid-teens, went on about how good a Christian she thinks she is, and how hard it is for her to let go of the “things of the world” as prescribed by her religion. I smiled jeeringly, and asked her: “what makes you think you are a Christian?” she replied that she believes in God; she is a regular at church, she does not drink, party hard, swear, among other things. I commended her for her efforts, encouraged her to spread the good news, and walked away somewhat disturbed. I spent the rest of my day trying to resolve the questions that were ignited during that short dialogue: Is a mere belief in the existence of God (or Jesus), a healthy lifestyle, and a record attendance of church services sufficient to characterize one as a Christian? If yes, then I hold all the aces! Unfortunately, after a little research and soul-searching, I realized that spirituality is the core of Christianity, from which all moral virtues naturally cling.

I was filled with gloom as I remembered the night I became born again, the chilly morning I was baptized, every day of the month after. I remembered the zeal that drove me to read the entire bible and see new revelation and reason in passages I had memorized as a kid. I wondered what changed when I personally accepted Christ into my life. I was born into a Christian home, my mom made sure I did not miss a church service, and even made me join the choir of our little community church; technically, I was already a Christian. So what changed? What did I welcome into my life when I prayed my heart out? The Holy Spirit— the God you personalize.

Today’s youth is being taught to think rationally. We know not to choose a course of action without finding reason in it (or do we?). The power of orderly thought is what fuels the society; it is what defines “first-world” and “third-world”. An ordinary youth cannot be reached or converted ‘only’ with the promise of love and eternal life. Gone are the days when people could make decisions on ethereality, sentiments and superstitions.  Religion could easily be said to be the greatest victim of this phenomenon. Increased rationality in humans have caused the disintegration of the church, such that there are almost as many sub-religions in Christianity, as there are other religions in the world. To the logical mind, Christianity (and all other religions for that matter) does not make any sense on its own; it is plainly expensive and depriving. Adoption of religion has been blamed on the fear of the unknown, the desire of association, the promise of eternity as justification for rightful living…. Christianity, and all its sects, is just another religion with its own rituals and rites.

What should distinguish a Christian is the presence of the Spirit of God, fathomed only after experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

God the Spirit

After I became born-again, I read a book titled “The Seven Spirits of God” and my life changed. I prayed a prayer, one like never before, for the Holy Spirit to come upon me; the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of might, the Spirit of reverence…, and he surely came. I had my Pentecostal moment right there. I had extreme joy and vigour, so much that every other sentence I uttered was somehow giving praise to God, or praying for someone. I actually enjoyed being a Christian for the first time. The Holy Spirit is not a vague, ethereal life force. He is not impersonal or unthinking. The Holy Spirit is a “person” equal in every way with God the Father, and God the Son. He is the same Jesus of old—that could be personal in every one of us. At the ascension, when Jesus noticed the worried look on his disciples’ faces, He said to them that he would send them a person to dwell in believers, taking the place of his bodily presence, and continuing the work which he has started. That means we can hold his hands, and ask him questions like Peter asked Jesus! By his anointing, we can lay our hands on the sick and he would surely be well, just like Jesus did. When we are in too much despair and we cannot pray, the bible says the Holy Spirit would understand our groaning, and pray on our behalf. This great person has been underexploited, consequently inflicting on ourselves a broken church and a dissatisfactory life. The Holy Spirit is today, the most significant incentive/gift that makes Christianity worthwhile on earth.

With Him comes the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, meekness, longsuffering…), and the all important spiritual gifts.

The Spiritual Gifts

  • The gift of wisdom is the ability to make decisions and give guidance that is according to God’s will.
  • The gift of knowledge is the ability to have an in-depth understanding of a spiritual or secular issue or situation.
  • The gift of faith is being able to trust God and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances.
  • The gift of healing is the miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured, or suffering.
  • The gift of miracles is being able to perform signs and wonders that give authenticity to God’s Word and the Gospel message.
  • The gift of prophecy is being able to proclaim a message from God.
  • The gift of discerning spirits is the ability to determine whether or not a message, person, or event is truly from God.
  • The gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a foreign language that you do not have knowledge of, in order to communicate with someone who speaks that language.
  • The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to translate the tongues speaking and communicate it back to others in your own language.
  • The gift of administration is being able to keep things organized and in accordance with God’s principles.
  • The gift of help is the desire and ability to help others, to do whatever it takes to get a task accomplished.
  • The gift of teaching is the ability to impact knowledge on another person, especially the knowledge of God.
Some would argue that the Holy Spirit comes into your life at the moment you receive Christ, others would say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an entirely different event evidenced by the speaking of tongues…, while referencing Acts 19: 1-5: … There he (Paul) found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”… On hearing this, they were baptized (by Paul) into the name of the Lord Jesus. The important thing to know is that the Baptism of the Spirit can (and in fact should) be experienced several times in your Christian life. NLT

There are several other gifts, and they are given according to the calling of God on each individual’s life. Every Christian’s daily living, most fundamentally, must be fuelled by the Holy Spirit; and through him, the real Christ-like experience can be actualized. With the Holy Spirit in you, unlike my teenage acquaintance, the “things of the world” would not even be a challenge. Your tastes, preferences, and outlook would change—albeit gradually.

The Church

Very many churches today are too absorbed in the “order and due process” of the Christian religion that they fail to live the genuine Christian lifestyle; the lifestyle that is characterised by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit through speaking in tongues, spiritual warfare, prophesy, deliverance, love, etc. Many churches are too engrossed in preaching prosperity and religious living that they completely ignore teaching spirituality and morality, even as the latter should precede the former. The church needs to focus on the youth, and their need to experience something real. Help the youth personally experience the God they profess instead of giving them rather unconvincing reasons to stay in church, and watch them gradually become dynamic ministers who are exited about the work of God.

The Parents

Parents do not seem to know how much influence they have on their children. It is extremely difficult to have a stirring spirit-filled child with uninspiring parents.

Parents are so cultured into believing that their children are rebellious and helpless, without the capacity of making critical decisions. They refuse to have a handle on the fact that their wards are breathing pictures of themselves. Parents should make an effort to re-evaluate their Christian lives and challenge the lifestyles of their children. Christian parents must always stress the importance of prayer–I remember gathering with my siblings as a young child for bible devotions twice daily, even though I hardly understood its purpose; it was just as natural as breakfast and dinner. They should lives godly lives worthy of emulation, and also constantly embrace the Spirit of God into their lives not only for their personal fulfilment, but also for the sake of their children.

The Youths

The ultimate responsibility rests in the hands of the youths. Tired of reading these bible passages that seem so meaningless and poetic? Ask the Holy Spirit for understanding, feel the word of God come alive in you as you gain command of those words, and make them applicable to your personal life. Frustrated with the overwhelming external pressures? Ask the Holy Spirit today for wisdom and counsel when it’s time to make those decisions. Make it top priority to please the Holy Spirit, knowing you are His top priority. Try to talk to Him like you would a brother or father, and feel the comfort that comes from a genuine heart-felt prayer instead of reiterating “the Lord’s prayer”. Make a habit out of bible study, try to relate its teachings with your daily lives, and make it your first source (over your peers and the internet) when you need answers to life questions.

Even if you accomplish all these things, the devil still has his ways around things. You can be sure that the he, after seeing your new prospects, would start nudging you even more than he did before because he knows that the Spirit of God cannot inhabit a sinful heart. You can also be sure of one thing: No matter how many times you fall for his ploys (and you will fall at some point), the Holy Spirit will always hold your hands, and he will always answer you at the faintest call. Learn to apologize and ask for forgiveness when you go wrong, make an effort to change your ways, have faith in the Lord to direct your journey with his Spirit, and he most certainly will.

Thank God for that young girl I met! I just became born-again and restored my friendship with my best of friends today, for the umpteenth time.  It is most assuredly, one relationship in your life you would never for regret having. His friendship is so enriching, that it would be selfish to keep the knowledge of him to you.  Please share your experience.

‘Laolu Samuel-Biyi.

Advertisements

One Response to “Youths and the Spirit”

  1. Tunde Adebanjo March 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    hmmmmn, I’m very inspired to get to know that u so much immerse in God’s word keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: