Sober Intoxication Pt. 1
Laeti bibamus sobriam profusionem Spiritus.
In 1975, Pope Paul quoted the above words in St. Peter's Basilica to the early Charismatic Renewal (Y4J is part of this!).
Laeti: with joy
Bibamus: let us drink
Profusionem Spiritus: the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The early church was defined by a sober intoxication. So what does that even mean? It comes from the event of Pentecost in the Book of Acts when the disciples were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they seemed almost drunk (check out Acts 2).
So when we talk about inebriation in the Holy Spirit we're talking about 3 particular effects:
1. Purifying us of sin
2. Renewing the heart
3. Enlightening the mind by a special knowledge of God.
If you get drunk on wine, you stagger, but being intoxicated with the Holy Spirit leaves you rooted in Christ. It is an intoxication that produces the sobriety of the soul! And what does that mean exactly? It's an intoxication that takes the soul beyond its normal experience, beyond its poverty and powerlessness. It moves it into a state of grace where there is no room for doubts, regrets or self-absorption but only for joy and thanksgiving.
The Early Church is a clear example of this - it was a charismatic christianity and their faith was filled with passion. They didn't reign in their charismatic nature, but celebrated it. They didn't have this confidence because they were more organised than us or because they were a perfect society but because they dwelled in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
So, let's take a deeper look into the phrase 'sober intoxication'.
We've kind of lost the original meaning of 'sober'. We associate it with a vague moderation in speaking and in drinking. So what's the true meaning? In biblical terms we can boil down the meaning into three things:
3. Brotherly Love
We'll be going into each one of those in more details in the coming weeks but what we need to understand now is that we must have an enthusiasm that is based on the cross. If we don't actively walk towards God we're automatically walking away from Him. Our focus shouldn't be the fuzzy feelings of worship, the lifting of our hands, speaking in tongues, the happiness we get from a 'good session'. I mean, they're all good things, but they shouldn't be our focus. They should be seen as the things that are propelling us forward. Are we better versions of ourselves then when we first started this journey with Christ?
Our enthusiasm must pass through the cross of purity, humility and brotherly love. Jesus Himself attained his glory by the cross. He was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18) by His cross. We are following a crucified Christ, not a sentimental, fuzzy Jesus like the one we sometimes see in paintings.
No one comes to Pentecost other than by way of Easter.
There is a need to know and imitate Christ and, upon doing this, upon becoming more like Jesus, God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we may become even more like Christ.
So how exactly do we become more like Jesus?
By denying ourselves in order to live by the Spirit and be guided by the Spirit. In 1Kings 18 we see a slight 'battle of the gods' between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Both prepare a sacrifice for their gods and agree that whichever god sends fire from the heavens is the true god. The prophets pray to Baal but nothing comes of it so Elijah prepares the sacrifice for our God. He builds an altar, digs a moat, and soaks the sacrifice in water three times and low and behold when he prays to God tongues of fire fall from the sky. If we want God's fire in our lives, we have to prepare the wood.
So the real question is, what are we doing to prepare ourselves to receive God?
When we spoke about the cross and death it wasn't a depressing death; on the contrary, it was a new life, a new birth. To prepare ourselves we have to make the decision to no longer live for ourselves but to follow the resurrected Christ. That means opening ourselves to others with humility, obedience, charity and brotherly service.
We have to find a balance between enthusiasm and active, personal commitment.
Prepare your wood.
For some extra preparation for these coming weeks we encourage you to read through the Book of Acts.