The Flame: September/October 2010
Dear Readers of The Flame,
The life of St. Paul epitomized mission. He said, “…I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over [to Christ] as many as possible.” (I Corinthians 9:24) Later on in the letter he would say, “…do everything for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31) This Spirit inspired zeal for God and humanity drove St. Paul to witness for Jesus in word, deed and martyrdom.
On the weekend of July 30-31, over four hundred of us gathered for the charismatic conference entitled Clothed with Power. I believe we drank of this same Spirit of zeal. We experienced a greater desire to see God glorified and humanity won over to Jesus Christ. How do we keep this flame of the Spirit alive in our hearts? Here are three simply steps.
Pray! Personal prayer is our avenue to God. When we open our hearts in thanks, praise, contrition and supplication to the Lord, God sends his Spirit upon us. It may not feel the same as the conference. However, God is faithful. We need to trust his faithfulness more than our “feelings” in prayer. It seems that the days I feel God’s closeness in prayer are the days I encounter trials and resistance in daily life. And the days that I am faithful to prayer even when it is dry, I have a more tangible sense of God’s grace in my daily activities. We need to be faithful in prayer.
Be proactive! We need to look for opportunities to witness for Christ in deed and word. For most of us, we do not need to change our routine. Most people havework to do, responsibilities to fulfill, obligations to meet. Much of serving Christ consists in how we do these things. We can do them grudgingly or cheerfully. As St. Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7) Our cheerful and loving attitude will open doors to witness for Christ in a more explicit manner.
Finally, lay aside fear! The Holy Spirit frees us from being ashamed of the things of God. As St. Paul wrote Timothy, “So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake…” (II Timothy 1:8) With the Spirit’s help, we can stand for Christ and his truth without fear.
We had just finished a period of exuberant praise at a conference I had attended a number of years ago. There was dancing in the aisles, hand waving and clapping, as well as speaking and singing in tongues. When the next speaker came to the podium he jokingly said, “The conference committee will be mailing a video tape of this last session to all of your pastors.” We all laughed with him. However, I have often thought, “Maybe we should mail the video!” Our joy in the Lord is good. It witnesses to Christ. And besides, people do much stranger things at football games!
Again, we need to keep the goal in mind: to win others for Christ and glorify God. There are times when need to be prudent in speech. We are not here to please ourselves (Romans 15:1) but to build up Christ’s body, the Church.
Let us pray, “Lord Jesus, let our zeal never be impeded by fear, but guided by love!”
Fr. Bob Franco