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You’ve got a Friend. Ephesians 4.3-6

Yesterday afternoon I sat down with three college girls at a coffee shop in charming downtown Wake Forest. In talking, one theme emerged that all three of them battle... anxiety. You have heard it on the news, I’m sure – anxiety is rampaging, particularly in young people. If a person had any propensity for the crippling nature of anxiety, the last two and a half years have blown it wide open. Actually the pandemic brought about fear and isolation and a worry of what is to come for most people, even my little twins, Lincoln and Logan. Think of it—at three years old, they had to wear facemasks to preschool and be taught by masked teachers, thereby negating the all-important currency of the smile. The people they encountered had only half a face, half the recognition, half the warmth . . . this ‘halfness’ imprinted them. Add to that the other disturbing things that are going on in the world, what is the cure for the anxiety and worry that threatens to strangle us? How do we as individuals, strive toward wholeness? To give you a word picture – how do we operate from our whole face, not the masked one? Hmmm. The answer comes in the next few thoughts Paul conveys in Ephesians 4: Live in unity or oneness, suggesting seven different aspects: in body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father. Hang with me here a moment. Paul is urging us to live in unity of body, which implies relationship and community. So who are your people? The three girls I met with yesterday chose one another, intentionally, to encourage each other (starting during the pandemic when their youth group did not meet), hold one another accountable and spur each other on to stronger relationships in God. Pretty special really. And then, Paul says ‘there is one… Spirit.’ Herein is the glue of community, the salve of heartache, loneliness and even anxiety: the Holy Spirit of God. Bearing in mind, that some of my dear reading friends are new to Christianity, and all of us need be reminded of this wonderful gift, let’s shine the spotlight a moment on Him. God never intended Christianity to be a religion; he intended it to be a relationship. Jesus modeled this while he was here as he lived with and taught and loved the 12 disciples in close relationship. (Don’t you wish you could have been one of them? What a thought!) As Jesus knew his time with the disciples was nearing the end, he told them he would be leaving them soon. [John 13.33] I can only imagine the dismay they must have felt. But, he told them he would send them a Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with them forever--the Holy Spirit. [John 14.15] At that time the Holy Spirit was with them, but in the future, he would live IN them, Jesus explained. [John 14.17] Did Jesus make good on his promise? Oh, yes! After he was arrested, tortured, crucified and then walked out of the tomb on the third day, he was with his disciples for 40 more days. And then, as they watched, he ascended into Heaven from atop the Mt. of Olives. But before his feet lifted off, he told the faithful gathering near him,(including his mother Mary), to go into Jerusalem and pray together because the Holy Spirit would come. Now I wish you could picture that - because you are thinking they are some distance away from Jerusalem, but friends, the Mt. of Olives is just across the Kidron Valley in full view of the old city of Jerusalem! If you have traveled with me, or with another, you can picture this--it is so close. In some ways, I find it shocking that they listened and did what Jesus told them to do. They stayed together***they prayed together***the Holy Spirit showed up*** just as Jesus had promised. From that day forward, we who are in relationship with Jesus Christ have the very Spirit of God within us. God is one in three persons, my friend: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus confidently told the disciples that he would not leave them alone, he would send Another. As much as he dearly loved those 12 men, he could confidently leave them because he knew that in short order the Holy Spirit would be given to them. (Short order=ten days. There were 10 days between Jesus' ascension into Heaven and the Holy Spirit's coming) Friend, if you have chosen Jesus Christ to be your Savior, asked him to forgive your sins, the Holy Spirit lives within you. Look to him to guide you, comfort and strengthen you. A prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you desired relationship with us so much, you made a way of redemption by giving us Jesus Christ. Jesus, who in perfection loved like no other and enabled us to have relationship with you forever. And then You gave us the Holy Spirit to seal that relationship in our hearts, minds and souls. Please fill us anew with your Holy Spirit that we would not be given to anxiety, but comforted in You. Please fill us to walk each day in hope, not fear or worry. Please fill us with the Holy Spirit to love like Jesus loved, humbly, gently and patiently. Thank you, oh thank you for being our Friend. Amen. To seal these thoughts: "Spirit" - This indeed is what we need - the Holy Spirit of God. Amen. Christine

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