Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness . . .
To be full of the Holy Spirit means we are full of the loving, manifest presence of God.
Who is the Holy Spirit, the one whom Jesus is full of as he goes away from the Jordan of his baptism?
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God; in fact, according to Genesis 1:2, the very energizing, life-giving breath of God. The Nicene Creed calls the Holy Spirit “the Lord, the giver of life.” Jesus is full, satisfied, content with, sustained by the Holy Spirit as he goes into the wilderness.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this. I have been satisfied by food. I have been satisfied by drink. I have been satisfied by relationships (in special moments), family laughter (in special moments), and even in vocational roles where I felt my calling was meeting, in some deep way, the needs of the world.
When one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner, wrote about vocation, he said:
It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a person is called to by God. There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-Interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. . . . The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.1
But this is important for us to say here, because it has tremendous pastoral implications for us as followers of Jesus.
In this baptism, Jesus received his business card: Beloved Son, pleasing to the Father before he even does one thing. But as Jesus is going into the wild where he will wrestle with the deepest questions of self-worth, purpose, and calling, the Bible does not say, “Jesus, full of satisfaction that he has a clear calling from God.”
No. Jesus is not full of self-actualization, or even the gift of a clear word from the Father as to what he is to do with his life.
Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, meaning he is full of the loving, manifest presence of God.
I believe this with all my heart: Jesus was so full of the Holy Spirit that even if he didn’t do anything that we would call missional, or ministry, or helpful to others, he would still have been full, satisfied, sustained by the presence of God. He was a beloved Son; that was his core vocation. At any given moment, he could have died—having fulfilled his calling.
Living in belovedness is fulfilling your calling, your vocation, in God. It will never be more complicated than that.
Have you ever thought you were right in the middle of your calling, what you might even call your vocation, and had whatever that platform was disappear in the blink of an eye? Maybe you were in a ministry role you felt good about, and perhaps even others respected you for your work. Then, a change happened, an unplanned circumstance came about, or someone made a decision that removed you from that role. Many Christians I know have gone into a tailspin at that point, so connected to their ministry that they practically fall away from God (and become mean to others) because their ministry disappeared. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard Movement of which I am a part, once said to this attitude (and I paraphrase), “You don’t have a ministry. I don’t have a ministry. We all have the ministry of Jesus.”
When your name and Beloved Son or Beloved Daughter is all you have on your business card, then you are full of the Holy Spirit and ready to do, or not to do, anything that pleases the Father. God didn’t call you or me to put a ministry on our spiritual business card. All he wants is our name on that card so he can say, “(insert your name), I need you here now,” or “(insert your name), I need you here now, and not there,” and we quickly obey. Whether we have a platform or not, we remain God’s beloved child.
Jesus was full of the presence of God, the breath of God, going into the wild. We must be as well. Our vocation, our calling, is our sonship and daughterhood—not the tasks we do or the talents we have.
We must get this right. Jesus did; the biggest questions of calling in his heart had already been answered, and they had nothing to do with how impressive his résumé looked, or didn’t look, at the time.
Lord of the Wild, our hearts are easily led to put our sense of self-worth and value in what we do to love and minister to others. We see now that until we have answered the belovedness question, with you, before we even step onto a field of ministry or service, we are vulnerable to the enemy confusing our calling. Our calling, our vocation, is to be your beloved child. Everything else, we are indifferent to. Use us as you will. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Have you ever put something on your spiritual business card, like a ministry or area of service, that you found your identity in? Was it ever taken away and, if so, how did you respond?
For the Awakening,
- Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC (New York: Harper & Row, 1993), 118–19, italics added.
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As an unordained Christ follower, I have no professional platform to lose. I’ve simply given over myself to Him and seek to do his will. As opportunities to utilize what Spiritual Gifts I possess arise, I’ve attempted to respond in faithfulness. This I find, has been a means of grace for both me and those I serve.
Of the Holy Spirit,
Let me be ever full
So I can stand
Against the pull
Of the world,
Of the flesh,
And of the devil
So they don’t pull
Over my eyes.