By Daniel Fusco
Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. -Ephesians 5:18-20
So in the Bible, the Apostle Paul uses a street-level picture to make a pretty profound point. He’s like, “Hey, stop getting drunk on spirits—and get drunk on God’s spirit instead!” Here’s the reason. When you are intoxicated you are in a state we commonly call being “under the influence.” People do incredibly dumb things when they’re under the influence. Things they wouldn’t normally do. Like write on someone’s forehead with a Sharpie. Or allow their forehead to get written on by a Sharpie.
The point is that alcohol can cut through our normal filters for behavior and lead us to do things we would never do otherwise. We can see exactly why Paul chose an analogy that links wine and God’s Spirit. Because in the word picture Paul is creating, we should absolutely be “under the influence,” but instead of wine—which can make us into idiots—we should be under the influence of God’s Spirit, which leads us to act like God. God’s Spirit changes us in a way that’s similar to how alcohol changes us. And then Paul recommends that we be continually filled with God’s spirit, on an ongoing basis. Like, “Top me off!”
Continually filled—and under the influence—of God’s Spirit. Because being under God’s influence can change everything we do: how we talk and pray and work and walk and love. Everything!
We build each other up instead of tearing each other down. We pray to God when things are terrible and when life seems wonderful. We share the good news with people, honestly and authentically, because we’re living it. We’re grateful instead of bitter. Open to surprises instead of stuck in our ruts. Part of something greater than ourselves. In other words, reflecting the brightness of God’s love into dark lives, and a dark world.
Boy do we need Spirit-filled leadership today. So much of leadership training has nothing to do with the Spirit of the Living God. Much of it is good old fashioned wisdom from a capitalistic business world. Now I am not down on such wisdom. Wisdom is the right application of the right information. And there is much to glean from the wisdom of business. Yet unique to the church of Jesus Christ and the people of God, is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The third Person of the Triune God who indwells, equips and empowers the redeemed of Jesus.
For many of us, we are better acquainted with the teachings of business gurus than walking in the Spirit. And let me tell you this, by applying solid business principles, you can grow a great ministry. But is it really the work of God’s kingdom? I know. Ouch! Sometimes we can be successful and yet completely miss the point. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day surely did that.
So we need to be topped off, continually filled by the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard it said this way, and I really like it, “It’s not a question of if you have the Holy Spirit. The question is, does the Holy Spirit have you?”
How do you know if you are leading in the Spirit?
What are some practical steps you can take to stay in step with the Spirit?
Where is God inviting you that you are hesitant to follow Him?
Daniel Fusco is the Lead Pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA and author of Honestly: Getting Real About Jesus and Our Messy Lives