Sunday morning, our friend Joe brought a powerful message about glowing. (Spoiler alert.) He concluded that when we believe at a heart level and respond to the Gospel, we glow. Before he got there, though, he told us what glowing is not. Glowing is not merely knowing, it’s not experiences, and it’s not religion. Religion is the sum of our “good behavior” and rituals that may or may not reflect a solid relationship with the Lord.
Humans have a hard time believing that God’s love isn’t transactional. It’s not “quid pro quo,” where we do good things and God takes us to heaven one day. God’s love is unconditional and full of grace. If you know very little but believe with all your heart, you’re better off than one who knows the Bible by heart but doesn’t believe. If you’ve never experienced a “mountain top” revelation but enjoy a day-to-day relationship with the Lord, you’re better off than one who leaps from mountain top to mountain top but lacks a daily communion with God. If you find yourself desperate for grace because you’re caught in a loop of sin, you’re better off than a Pharisee who checks every box of the law doesn’t recognize the need for a Savior.
While Joe’s message concluded with the exhortation to, “go and glow,” and I love it! But I also know that many of us find it hard to glow when we’re just “not feelin’ it.” What then?
Consider this verse, also known as The Greatest Commandment:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.Mark 12:30, NIV
I want to show you something cool. Joe’s sermon aligned with this verse really well. Glowing is not:
Interesting… Joe said glowing is not these three things, yet it appears that the Greatest Commandment is telling us those are the most important things. When you don’t have the knowledge you need, you don’t feel the Lord’s presence, and you’re struggling to bring your behavior in line, what do you do? How do you feel? Personally, this is when I start feeling guilty. I pull away from friends, isolating myself in shame. My faith feels wobbly.
There’s a fourth thing in the Greatest Commandment, though, not included in the “knowledge, experiences, religion” list. It’s soul. Soul is spirit. Check out this verse from John’s Gospel:
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.John 4:23-24, NIV
Near the end of the sermon on Sunday, Joe also pointed out this verse:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.Romans 8:11, NIV
I want to add in one more passage for good measure:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.Romans 8:26-27, NIV
Actually, next time you sit down with a Bible, read all of Romans 8. It may be the best chapter in the whole Bible, when it comes to understanding how to “glow” when we’re “not feelin’ it.”
When all else fails – your knowledge, your experience, and your behavior – call on the Spirit. If you believe in Jesus, you already have God’s Spirit within you. Is that a big deal? Well, that Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, so… yeah, I suppose that’s pretty important. Romans 8:26 says when we’re so distraught that we can’t even find the words to cry out to God, the Spirit within us translates our grief into prayers. Many of my dearest friends can attest to the experience of falling to the floor and being unable to say much of anything except, “HELP!” When you’re at the very end of your rope and acknowledge your need before the Lord, that can be when He does His best work in you. Once you’ve seen how He works in that moment and the ones that follow, you can’t help but glow.
Have you ever heard, “fake it ’til you make it?” My mom used to remind me that when you smile, the muscles in your face tell your brain “happy happy,” so your brain produces happy neurotransmitters, and you feel happier. When Jesus says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mark 5:44, NIV), I think the same idea applies. It’s really hard to keep hating or resenting or fearing someone when you pray for them. A lot of us feel like we’re being inauthentic when we pray for an enemy, worship God when our fears or doubts are overwhelming, or serve when we’d rather be home in bed.
But here’s how it works…
[Jesus] replied, “… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20, NIV
You may only have this tiny little kernel of faith. You act on it, even though you’re “not feelin’ it.” The Spirit within you is like the best amplifier on the market and turns your tiny little kernel into a giant tree, full of fruit. Offer what you have, even if it feels like nothing. The Lord isn’t asking you for something you can’t give Him. He’s asking you for the two pennies in your pocket; His Spirit provides the rest. Here’s the point… YOU are not DOING the GLOWING. His Spirit is glowing through you. All you have to provide is a tiny little mustard seed of faith and the obedience to submit it to Him.
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