“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.” (1 Sam. 16:14)
“Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.” (1 Sam. 18:12)
“Samuel said to Saul, ‘Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?’ ‘I am in great distress,’ Saul said. ‘The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.’ Samuel said, ‘Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy?’”(1 Sam. 28:15-16)
What does it feel like for the Holy Spirit to depart from a believer? I guess we can look to verses like Galatians 5 and point to the fruits of the Spirit being absent in the believer’s heart which then means the Spirit is not with them but I wonder if that is how Saul felt. I wonder if Saul even realized that the Spirit had departed from him. No doubt he did by chapter 28 but I am not sure Saul knew this when we first read about it in chapters 16 and 18. That means Saul, perhaps, went on with his life as if he had God’s blessings and anointing but behind the scenes God is already raising up a new king who has a heart after God.
Do we, as churches, continue doing kingdom as if we have the Spirit or are we conducting “business as usual.” In other words, what does a church look like that is led and fed by the Spirit? Francis Chan made the point in his book Crazy Love that most of our churches would not be any different if you were to take Jesus from the head. Why? Because they have led the church without Jesus fo so long anyways. Have we done the same thing with the Spirit? Sure we can grow a church by having a nifty speaker, attractive programs and a buffet in the vestibule in case you missed breakfast. What about the Spirit though?
“The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement of the Holy Spirit.” Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 15.
Amelia, my oldest daughter, is funny about her boo-boos (bruises, cuts and scrapes). Her legs looks like she has been training for the Army Rangers more than a little 3-year-old girl. She is a clutz in the greatest sense of the term. The other day she ran into something with her leg and had some blood dripping down but she did not notice it. It was “business as usual” and she was fine until I told her about the blood and then she started screaming. “My leg hurts! I need a band-aid! Make it stop!” The injury was there for a while but only when I pointed out the results did she start screaming.
In a sense…the church is a lot like Amelia in that we have bumps, bruises and cuts and we don’t even recognize it. It is going to take some prophetic speech to awaken the dead aspects of our congregations to catch on fire for the Lord. I think where we may start is understanding our poor assessment of the Holy Spirit. Have a blessed day.