Christmas is coming, and, maybe, like me, you’re hoping to find a new circumstance (or two) wrapped and waiting for you under the tree. You’ve been staring at the sky for months, begging God to scoop you up and out of your job, a relationship, a zip code, a dress size, a season of parenting, a stretch of grief, a hospital gown, or a financial disaster, but he hasn’t.
You’re convinced peace will come once he does, forgetting all the while that Peace came to earth to live among us and, now, He lives within us.
The God who came near as a baby 2,019 Christmases ago moved into our right-now lives through the Holy Spirit. This means we don’t have to wait for God to place us in new circumstances before we can join him in bringing hope to this broken world.
“The secret,” Elisabeth Elliot says, “Is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”
When the Holy Sprit moves into our soul’s neighborhood, we have all we need, right where we are.
Paul tells us this in Philippians 4:11-13:
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
We waste so much time—especially this time of year—chasing and hoping for something that’s already in us, don’t we? We want purpose, power, peace, approval, contentment, and for our lives to count for something, but we forget that our lives already do count because the Prince of Peace dwells in us.
Romans 8:10 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then you have access to his Spirit—one that can empower, equip, and mobilize you to do even greater things in the world than He did. A spirit that can bring meaning to your mundane, lend muscle to your fight, and fasten purpose to your circumstances, whether life be a joy or a struggle.
When the Holy Spirit moves in, we can either leverage the power of Christ in us for His glory, for His kingdom, or we can squander it by going our own way, building our own kingdoms, and living out of our own strength. The choice is ours.
I don’t know about you, but when the time comes for God to ask me what I did with the gift of his spirit, I don’t want tell him I wasted it because I was too self absorbed to give a rip; that I was too busy staring at the sky, waiting for things to be different before I lived differently. I want to live knowing that since he’s moved in, it doesn’t matter whether I am living in plenty or in want because the power of the Holy Spirit equipping and guiding me is bigger and more beautiful than whatever repetitive, remarkable, or catastrophic circumstances lay before me on any given day.
That sounds great, Kristen, but how do we actually live like this? How do we barrel into the holidays and New Year leveraging the power of Christ in us?
I’m glad you asked.
To start, we need to get over ourselves and get after Jesus.
The last thing Jesus said before he went to heaven was that we are to be his witnesses. We are to be like him in this hurting world. But we can’t be like him if we don’t know him. And in order to know him, we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and set our minds and our hearts on him.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 says:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
If we can get over ourselves and get after Jesus with all of our minds and all of our hearts, there won’t be room in either for selfishness or self-pity or for staring up at the sky while the world goes to hell right outside our doorsteps.
If we get after Jesus, we won’t have time to wait for things to be different before getting serious about loving justice and mercy and serving from—not just sitting in—the church His disciples began when the Holy Spirit showed up and said, “Let’s do this.”
Second, if we are going to be content in our circumstances and leverage the power of Christ in us, we need to be all there.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God prepared in advance the good works we would do with the power of Christ in us, and whatever those good works are, and wherever they are to be done, we need to own them and be all there.
Let me stop you right there. It doesn’t matter if you live behind a dumpster or behind a gate; if you are a teenager or a grandparent; if you love your job or if you hate it; if you are a new mom or step mom; if you’re healthy or if you are sick; if you have financial margin or not. God has something for you to do.
Are you doing it?
Are you all there—are you all in—where God has put you? Not where he’s put your friend, or your pastor, or the influencer in your Instagram feed. You.
Let this sink in from Jennie Allen:
“God’s priorities are beautiful, and they trickle down into invisible spaces — into neighborhoods and families and friends and strangers. He will call us to pour our lives into the cracks around us and sometimes into cracks far from our doorsteps. But wherever he calls us, we pour, not wishing for a larger crack or a more noticeable one, or even the one we were expecting.”
When God’s spirit moves in, we pour our guts out, ladies. There is no, “I’m too busy or too broke or too pregnant or too barren or too uncomfortable or too unqualified or too old or too sick or too scared or too young or too uneducated” to pour our lives out into the cracks around us.
We have the spirit of God in us. We cannot ever say he’s given us nothing to do. It’s on our doorstep. We have to be all there, and then do it. Will there be days when we do it half-heartedly or despondently? Of course. But his grace and his spirit will be there in our tiredness and in our challenges. It will be there beside still waters when everything is smooth sailing and on the battlefield when things are not. But we have to say, “I’m in. I’m here. Let’s do this. You’re with me.”
Just like our girl Mary did.
When she was told that God had impregnated her with the Savior of the World, she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant” [and I will be all here]. She knew she would have to endure rumors and ridicule (among other things), but still she embraced her circumstances and stayed the course. How?
Christ literally in her.
So listen: If we are going to leverage the power of Christ in us so that his will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven, then we need to live to the hilt in every situation, through every season, not wishing for things to be different but to live differently so that a watching world might glimpse the hope he came to bring through our lives.