Two weeks after he became a Christian, Shadi found himself leading a Bible study. Hardly seems right, don’t you think? Let me explain the circumstances.
Shadi grew up in a Muslim family in Upper Egypt, but struggled to commit to Islamic doctrine. When, in his early 20s, he got a job and struck out on his own, he began a spiritual search which led him through an internet search, to a Discovery Bible Study. During the third of these, he put his faith in Christ and reveled in his new spiritual life.
The following week at work (he is a porter in a transportation hub in a large city), he helped a woman and her daughter with their bags. Grateful, the woman asked Shadi if he were a Christian.
He happily told them he was and the woman said, “We are Coptic Orthodox Christians, but we want to study the Bible more. We have been asking God to send us an evangelical Christian to teach us the Bible. Would you mind visiting us once a week to do that?” Shadi was taken aback and quickly contacted his study leader for help.
You have the Holy Spirit!
I was astonished to hear that he suggested that Shadi accept the opportunity. He told Shadi that, as a Christian, he had the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. All he needed to do was to take what he was learning at the Bible study and transfer that to this spiritually hungry family, in dependence on the Spirit.
This leader saw significance in the fact that the woman recognized something in Shadi which prompted her to identify him as a Christian and, since he was the one she approached, he should be the one to respond.
If we read this in the New Testament, we would accept it readily. In that context such a thing would seem entirely reasonable, but most of us in the West would never suggest such a course of action—a new Christian from a Muslim background teaching the Scriptures after only a week as a believer. Unthinkable!
Yet, in a place where true believers are few and the spiritual need is great, why not? Did Jesus not promise the Holy Spirit to His followers? Will He not lead us into all truth? Will He not be ever present. Will He not bring the very power of God into the believer’s life?
I suspect that many in the church today have become overcautious for one reason or another. We feel unqualified. We don’t want to presume on the Spirit. We don’t want to make God look bad if we blow it or, more likely, we don’t want to look bad if things don’t turn out well. We fear the unknown. Consequently, we do nothing that we can’t handle on our own.
Have we lived so long depending on our wits, our energy, our programs, and our resources, that we fear inviting the disruptive power of the Holy Spirit into our tried and true systems. Could it be that we have lost “the fear of the Lord”—that we no longer shudder to think we might grieve or quench the Holy Spirit as He seeks to bear spiritual fruit in our lives both individually and in the church?
At the beginning of this new year, let’s take a fresh look at our perspective, do an honest evaluation, and make room for the Spirit.
Author’s Disclaimer: Please note that the work of the Spirit described in this article was in the context of a group of Christians studying the Scriptures. I am in no way supportive of abandoning the Bible and fellowship in the Christian community to follow whatever subjective inclination enters one’s mind as a way of making room for the Spirit.