Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Often Are You Intoxicated?

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-21
Think about what Paul is saying here. He commands the believers at Ephesus to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And as we read it, he is no less commanding us. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. To not be filled with the Spirit is disobedience. And then he tells us what the effects are of being filled with Spirit: we’ll be addressing each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all our hearts, giving thanks always and for everything and submitting to one another. But what amazes me so much about what Paul writes here is that he compares being filled with the Spirit to being drunk with alcohol. He says, “Don’t get drunk with wine! Don’t fill yourself with wine! Fill yourself with the Holy Spirit!” In other words, “Get drunk with the Holy Spirit!” Think about this. Before I got saved, I had a few experiences of being drunk with alcohol. It causes you to act in ways that cause you to stand out from people who are sober. People usually know when you are drunk if they see you. You can’t usually be drunk and keep it a secret. Now apply that understanding of what it means to be drunk to how Paul wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The parallel is stunningly clear. He’s telling us to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it causes us to act in ways that cause us to stand out from people who aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that it will be clear to all who see us that we are under the influence of something (though they may not know it’s a Someone). Our being filled with the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be something that only we as individuals are aware of. Others should be able to see it in the same way that they would be able to tell if we were drunk. It should spill forth in unrestrained encouraging and singing to the Lord and thanksgiving and humble service in the same way that drunkenness spills forth in uncontrolled, rude behavior. The sad thing is that many of us would probably view such public Spirit-filled behavior to be in some sense shameful (I know I often do) when it’s the drunken behavior that we should be ashamed of. We should be putting restraints on our drinking, not on singing to the Lord in front of others and submitting to them, even when it makes us foolish in the eyes of the world. In fact, hopefully I would be especially inclined to submit in that case so that it would be plain to those watching that I am not in control because they can't think of any good explanation for why I would behave in that way if I really was in control.

So, how often are you intoxicated?

How often am I intoxicated? Not nearly enough.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Convicting, Chris! Observers thought the newly Spirit-filled disciples to be drunk at Pentecost, of course, as they spoke and others heard them in their own languages. So in that case, communication was the effect of being Spirit-filled. Interesting!

And still more convicting.