“Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21–23 NLT)
Every once in a while I read something in Scripture that makes absolutely no sense. You too? For example, “…he breathed on them…?” What in the world…?
If you heard Sunday’s Sermon (The Dead, Living), you know this next part, but stick with me. In the original Greek language, the word for Spirit can be translated as breath, or wind. And while the word used here literally means that Jesus breathed on them, look at the rest of the sentence: “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Said another way, Jesus breathes out and invites the Disciples to breath in… the Holy Spirit. And what happens next rocks the world: the Disciples spread the gospel and thousands are added daily to their number!
The good news is, that same Spirit is available to us today. But here’s the 20 million dollar question: are we breathing what Jesus offers?
To me, this imagery of breathing is uber-helpful in understanding how to live in the Holy Spirit. Let’s use this imagery to look at some common mistakes people make as they try to live in the Spirit.
1. They never inhale. Yea, I know what you’re thinking… Bill Clinton said the same thing once. What he was (not so) eloquently trying to say was, the impact of what he was doing was never internalized. It never got into his system.
If the Holy Spirit never gets into our system that means we’re on our own. To me, that’s way more frightening than inviting the Holy Spirit into my life. This is one time where it’s OK to inhale… deeply!
2. They inhale, but they hold their breath. Some want the Holy Spirit all for themselves. They won’t
share by breathing out. Their motto might be, “Love God, and love me, just as I love myself.” They’re missing the point.
Try this experiment. Hold your breath for the rest of the day.
Do you know why this is impossible? Because you are hard-wired to breathe… it keeps us alive. You will either pass out and start breathing again, or you will die. Something deeper inside us is hard-wired to spiritually breathe. And if we’re not spiritually breathing, we’re spiritually dying. So… share with others by exhaling… and live!
3. They’re breathing sparingly. These are the folks that are worried there’s not enough Holy Spirit to go around. How can I get everything I need and have enough left over?
Try this experiment. Breathe only once every ten seconds.
Let me predict your results. You will become hyper-focused on breathing. You will not be able to think about anything else as a sense of panic rises within you. And you will not be able to do anything physical.
In short, you will become an immobile, self-focused, panic-stricken mess. Frankly, there are enough of those folks in the world today… we don’t need more.
So what’s my advice? Recognize that there is an unending supply of air that is fresh, invigorating, and life giving. And just… breathe!
What tips would you add to those above? How will you “breathe today?” Join the conversation by leaving a comment!