Influence as the ability to have an impact on the character of someone is very significant in life. In fact, all the things we do or fail to do come from influences from various things inside and outside of us. Parents influence their children to act in specific ways. Teachers influence their students to adopt certain values or qualities. Friends influence each other in the best or the worst ways (Prov. 27:17). Apart from human influence, there are also influences from things like food, drink, environment, culture, society, and other things. In short, life is a trajectory of influences, which could be direct or indirect, however, to experience influence from anyone or anything, one needs to be open to it; disposition encourages influence.
Today is the feast of the Pentecost which celebrates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles as they were praying together at the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Before his ascension into heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ instructed them not to leave Jerusalem until they receive the power from above; the Holy Spirit (Act 1:8). Ten days after, the promise was fulfilled. The Pentecost encounter narrative from Acts of the Apostles (2:2-4) says,
And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
To proceed in this reflection, we need to reappraise our understanding about the personality of the Holy Spirit. It is common to hear some people refer to the Holy Spirit as a “thing.” The designation is wrong! The “mighty wind” and “tongues of fire” in the account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost were outwards signs indicating His presence not Him per se. Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew (3:16), the Holy Spirit manifested His presence during the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in the form of a dove, and we cannot say that the Holy Spirit is a dove.
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Divine Trinity. He is eternally one and equal with the Father and the Son. In the beginning, we notice the presence of the Holy Spirit when the Book of Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was unknown as a person. Instead, we hear about the Spirit of God (Gen 41:38; Numbers 27:18, Judges 6:34). It was David who gave the full designation, “Holy Spirit,” in his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51:11).
If we can know the Holy Spirit, then he would become relevant for us. During the initial instruction about the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ promises the apostles that he would ask the Father, and He will give them another advocate, the Spirit of truth which the world cannot receive because it neither SEES him nor KNOWS him (John 14: 16-17). From our Lord’s instruction, we understand the power of knowledge; you cannot receive what you don’t know.
One may ask did the apostles know about the Holy Spirit before the Pentecost encounter? The answer is a big “YES.” Another question would be how? If we go back to the Gospel of John (14:17b), our Lord assures the apostles that they know the Holy Spirit because He (the Holy Spirit) abides with them and will be in them.
To make it more practical, every encounter with Jesus Christ is also an encounter with the Holy Spirit as well as with the Father because they share the same Godhead. We understand this more with our Lord’s reply to Philip when he made the request, “show us the Father” and our Lord says to him, “whoever has seen me has seen the father” (John 14:9). In the same way and by implication, the knowledge of the Son implies knowledge of the Holy Spirit.
If we know the Holy Spirit what impact do, we expect from His outpouring like on the day of Pentecost. Often, we erroneously assume that the encounter with the Holy Spirit must end in speaking in tongues and shouting. We need two things from the Holy Spirit, namely His gifts (1 Cor.12:1-11) and His Fruits (Gal.5:22).
However, for us to have a productive encounter with the Holy Spirit we need to be open to His impactful presence. The first thing we need to do is to disconnect from sin because the Holy Spirit is allergic to sin. Our Lord Jesus tell us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin which has roots in unbelief (John 16:8-9). In the letter of the Galatians (5:16-17), St Paul instructs that we should live (walk) in the Spirit and not in the flesh which is prone to sin. In Romans (8:8), St. Paul maintains that those who live in the flesh cannot please God.
When we make efforts to disconnect from sin, we qualify to climb up to the Upper Room for the new Pentecost encounter. Those who were at the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost received cleansing through their encounter with the risen Lord. We can say that they already have the template of the Holy Spirit in them when the risen Lord breathed on them saying, “receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).
The Holy Spirit is our teacher, let us listen to Him.
The Holy Spirit is our leader and guide, let us follow Him.
The Holy Spirit is our comforter, let us stay close to Him.
The Holy Spirit is our advocate, let us consult Him.
The Holy Spirit is our help, let us reach out to Him.
The Holy Spirit is God, let us adore and worship Him.
As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, let us strive proactively to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. Have an awesome celebration.