We are at the River Jordan, with John the Baptizer and a heads-up:
"I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” (Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible)
Jesus arrives on the scene, at the river to be baptized by John, which John does…and as Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens open, God’s Spirit like a dove descends, and Jesus hears a voice from heaven, “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”
What a moment! Jesus is, himself, initiated and empowered by the Holy Spirit! Completely grounded in God’s Love.
An Epiphany moment: the One who will ignite the change in us from the inside out is clearly with us, coming alongside everyone else at the river…but causing a seismic shift in what it means to live a changed life.
It’s an inside job.
And it’s not a do-it-yourself, New-Years-resolution, self-help, try-harder thing. Self-help books have good ideas but the power to change from the inside out, comes from elsewhere. Otherwise we are just never good enough…there is always something to do better…no matter how hard we try.
No. A changed life starts with a fire within… the Life of God ignited by Jesus.
When we pray for the Holy Spirit, as we do when we baptize a child, we pray for the Life of God to be animated and activated in us and between us and through us.
It’s like praying with a 24/7 personal Life Coach who will walk with us…empowering us to connect and stay connected in God’s Love and with one another and with our true self. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that draws us, and empowers us to want to be a clear channel for the flow of Life...making Real what John initiated.