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The Right Kind of Work

Galatians 4:5-7

5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.[b] 6 And because we[c] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”[d] 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.[e] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

This last week I was honored with the opportunity to be one of the speakers for a Kaleo Fire School that happened at one of our Kaleo partner churches in Columbia, Louisiana. It was a powerful time of connection and fellowship as we enjoyed the Holy Spirit together. I love that we have this network and family filled with people who are hungry for more of God. For me personally, it's very encouraging to stay connected with others outside of our local Church body who also have a heart for revival and renewal. This week as I was teaching a lesson on the “Spirit of Sonship”, which is a simple teaching that reminds us that our main call in God is to learn to relate to Him as a child relates to their father, I was struck in the heart once again by the words Holy Spirit was pouring from His heart through my mouth as I spoke. I wanted to share some of it with you in my blog this week. 

Learning to be a son or daughter of the Most High God truly is the point of real discipleship. It is one of the core purposes of our existence as human beings. To be in relationship with God on His terms. It is our high call, that we would know how to relate to our creator the way He has created us to relate to Him. In fact based on Galatians 4:5-7, this is a primary function of the Holy Spirit. To cry out from within us to God, not just as Father but as Papa or Daddy. Leading us to know God as Abba which denotes connection built on raw intimacy and love.

Sure, Holy Spirit also grows us into the image of Christ through conviction and empowering us with grace to perform the supernatural works of the Kingdom, no doubt, these are also important functions of the work of the Holy Spirit. But these works are grounded on the foundation that the Holy Spirit is teaching us to accept and live from the reality that we are sons and daughters before our Heavenly Father. We have to accept this work of the Spirit first to be able to then effectively embrace His other ministries. When we don't first stabilize ourselves in the reality that we are sons and daughters, we are in danger of handing every other work and grace the Spirit does through us, over to the orphan spirit that vies to dominate us. 

The orphan spirit wants us to believe that we can earn God’s affection and affirmation by the things we do. Fortunately and unfortunately there is nothing we could ever do in this temporal state that would make us deserving of the love of the one true eternal God desires us to know Him through. Thankfully, He has already chosen to love us, not because of what we can do, but rather because of what Jesus has already done.

An orphan spirit really cannot accept the full finished work of the cross. An orphan spirit is fine with salvation being made available through the cross, but refuses to believe that they are also accepted by Father God because of the work of the cross. In this way, without realizing it they diminish Jesus’ shed blood and atonement. Of course, someone overcome with an orphan spirit would never admit to that, in fact they would find a way to use the Scripture and/or mixed with personal revelations to affirm their fleshy works and striving as good and Godly. The orphan spirit uses religious interpretations of Scripture to ground and validate its broken belief system. The orphan spirit hates the idea that believers can be confident in their identity in Jesus without first doing something to prove it. In fact, I would say that someone who is confident in God and their identity, is offensive to someone with a dominating orphan spirit. 

Someone who is well grounded before the Father would never dare to entertain the idea that striving and working is a means to prove their spiritual worth. This can feel very threatening to someone who uses striving and works as a means for affirmation.

This is why over the last four years, as the pastor of this Church, I have found it very helpful to make it clear to newcomers to the body that there is no pressure for them to do anything but receive from God when they first come. I also tell them there are no hoops to jump through to be accepted and there are certainly no ladders to climb into spiritual positions of influence. I also make it clear that when the Holy Spirit makes it clear to them what they are called to do, that we as a Church (within reason) will resource them however needed for them to step into that call with confidence. 

Most people find these directives to be a breath of fresh air, especially for those who have come out of more legalistic expressions of faith. Most love this approach to integrating into a new Church body, that is until they don’t. The pattern is fairly predictable, people come, find this to be a breath of fresh air, encounter God, get set on spiritual fire (which is all amazing). Inevitably, the next thing to happen if they are not prepared, is the drive to do something for God. As if all that spiritual growth was possible because of your ability to do something for God. I watch it happen time and time again, people begin to look for a ladder to climb or a hoop to jump through to satisfy the need for affirmation for all God is doing in them. 

At this point you might be asking yourself, what’s wrong with people doing things? What’s wrong with people wanting to work and serve? Absolutely nothing, everyone should accept the call to serve and work to build the Kingdom. Christianity by nature is anti-laziness and our faith calls people to work from a higher standard. The problem is that any work birthed out of a freshly desire to be accepted, instead of a genuine call from Father God is destined to fail and hurt people from inception. Eventually, when the excitement fades and the resistance from the enemy comes, this kind of “work” becomes an idle that requires more attention and affirmation from others to sustain it. In essence, this kind of work sucks the life out of people instead of pouring God’s life into people. Instead of relying wholly on the grace of God to accomplish all that was intended, this work of the flesh is driven by the appetite of the orphan spirit which really can never be satisfied. Well then, how do we gauge if the work we feel called to is motivated by an orphan spirit or the spirit of sonship? Well, truly there is not a silver bullet that can aptly discern fully every situation. Each situation needs examination by the Holy Spirit and prayerful consideration and accountability from those who are proven and trusted leaders. Though I have found in my own life that there are a series of questions I can ask myself to help expose my motivations. 

  1. Who will get the glory from this endeavor? Will this point people back to me or will it cause people to see Jesus more clearly?

  2. Could I do this work, even if I knew that I would never receive the credit or do I need people to publicly acknowledge what I accomplished?

  3. Does this work help me better rest in the grace of God, or does it demand I strive to make something happen in my own strength?

I find this line of self questioning helps me to protect myself and the people I am in relationship with from being influenced by the orphan spirit. Do I still miss it at times? Absolutely. Though I am discovering, as I mature, the urge to prove myself is dissipating. I am getting much better at stepping into and accomplishing the works I know I am called to as a son of God, and I am also becoming more nimble and equipped to dodge the busyness and striving presented by the orphan spirit. 

I am also realizing as I get older that my time is the most precious commodity Jesus has given me to steward while on this earth. I really don’t want to spend any more of it feeding the very orphan spirit that is leading me away from the work the Holy Spirit is trying to produce in and through me. 

None of us will ever get it right 100% of the time, but we can grow more aware of what God is actually calling us to, and not calling us to. As we grow together my prayer is that we all continually reject the orphan spirit that makes our faith and work burdensome and heavy, while continually accepting the spirit of sonship that makes our faith and work joyful and lifegiving. 


Pastor John

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