“Convince me it’s real!”

“If Christianity isn’t real, I don’t want anything to do with it.” Meaning – why waste time on all that Bible Study, going to church and being a good Christian if what the Bible promised me isn’t happening?

The Bible, for instance, talks of “joy inexpressible” (1 Peter 1:8), of “peace which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), of a “love that drives out fear,” (1 John 4:18), of “no anxious thoughts” (Philippians 4:6), of “being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12), of “comfort in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:4), of being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), of our “faith growing more and more, and our love for each other increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3), of “the evil one not touching us” (1 John 5:18), and of actually living together with Jesus Christ “whether we are awake or asleep” (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

Remarkable joy, remarkable calm, remarkable confidence, remarkable strength, remarkable change, remarkable attitude, remarkable awareness of Christ’s presence, and remarkable freedom from the evil influences of the culture. All clear signs of a real God creating something new and wonderful in us.

But there I sat, pen poised in hand, staring at the words I’d just written: “Convince me it’s real!” Because here I’d been a Christian for years, but I was still having weird thoughts and black moods. What, then, was the point of all that study, going to church and being a Christian, when none of those verses seemed to be happening to me?

And then I realized I’d never consciously looked to the Holy Spirit to make all those verses real in my life. In fact, I’d never actually depended on the Holy Spirit for anything in my life. Which was totally daft because Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16 “that out of (the Father’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power THROUGH HIS SPIRIT in your inner being.” The whole point of the Father sending the Spirit was to give us total confidence and total conviction in the reality of his presence, and deep down in our innermost being where it counts too, not just in head knowledge.

I realized (at last) that I couldn’t, by head knowledge alone, create what only the Holy Spirit can create. It’s “the Spirit who helps us in our weakness,” Romans 8:26. It’s the Spirit who creates in us – and for us – all that God has promised to us. That’s why “God gives us his Spirit,” Galatians 3:5. It’s to “work miracles among you.”

How, then, do we become convinced that God and all this Christian stuff is real? 1 John 3:24 – “this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”The Spirit makes it real.

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