The more we reverence the Holy Spirit, the greater His active influence will be among us. By reverence, I mean a strong feeling of respect and admiration, a deep and joyful awareness of and honor for the Holy Spirit.
Luke presents this precept in the unfolding life of the early church. In Acts 5, a man named Ananias sold some property and gave the proceeds of the sale to the church. However, he claimed that he withheld none of the money for himself. Peter called him out for lying to the Holy Spirit (not for keeping what was rightfully his). Consider this clearly: Ananias tried to mislead the apostles (in order to appear generous), but Peter called this lying to the Holy Spirit. Peter recognized the prevailing presence of the Spirit in the church. This reverent awareness seemed to allow for or produce a powerfully active influence of the Spirit, so much so that the lying man and his wife (who was part of the plan to “test the Spirit of the Lord”) both fell dead (Acts 5:1-10).
As a result, great fear come upon all the church, and as many as heard these things. And (as further result) many signs and wonders were performed by the hands of the apostles (vv. 11-12). I believe the same joyful awareness of and honor for of the Holy Spirit fueled the compassion and confidence to work miracles. Luke continues in vv. 13-14, describing a broad respect for the church: no one dared join them under pretense, and the community held them in high regard. This sentiment was not due to a program or a strategy of the church; it was not in any way due to the church’s attempts to fit in or be accepted. This was directly because of the reverence the church possessed and practiced toward the Holy Spirit, which fostered His active influence in and through them.
Luke brings the narrative to crescendo in vv. 15-16 when he describes people bringing the sick and oppressed from neighboring cities and lying them on the streets so that Peter’s shadow would fall on them, and “they were healed, every one.” We can probably assume there was no mojo in Peter’s shadow. What we can assert is that Peter walked with a reverent (bold, joyful, respectful) awareness of the Holy Spirit. As a result, both he and the church he helped lead bore a reputation as carriers of divine presence. This reputation fueled not only a healthy respect and admiration from the world around them, but also a robust hope in the Christ they served.
It is easy to hear the Apostle Paul’s affirmation of such reverence: “Do not grieve the Spirit” (Eph. 4:30), “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thess. 5:19), “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Apostolic faith is that which prizes, prioritizes, cherishes, and reverences the Holy Spirit.
I am challenged to centralize my own awareness of the Holy Spirit, to reverence Him deeply and happily. I am determined to humbly lead my family and encourage my church to foster such reverence for the Spirit. Because, I believe, the more we reverence the Holy Spirit, the greater His active influence will be among us. I want nothing less and nothing else.
Thanks for reading,