“Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:22-27)
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:15-18
“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His love.” – Andrew Murray
What I am able to give Robyn in human love is well below the fullness the Spirit longs to give. I love her with “water” but in me is One who has changed my heart and whose love is greater than any I could conjure on my own. I long to love her with the “passion of the Holy Spirit”. With the water I say, “I am sorry” and hope for change; with the Spirit I am aflame with a new power elevating my responses to Robyn and bringing honor to Jesus. With the water I respond well to her if she has done so to me; it is conditional (Matthew 5:46-48). In the immersion of the Spirit I pour out to her what I have received from Him – things neither she nor I deserve but are in desperate need of; it is unconditional. It is a transcendent grace lived out in a mundane, inglorious world.
This is the genuine meaning of Spirit baptism – a plunging so deep into the depths of the Spirit that He profoundly exalts my real life interactions at home and in community. It is less about “a sign” and more about a new way of living; less about an “experience” and more about love expressed in the simple exchanges of daily life; less about the false and more about the genuine. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love”, have I truly been immersed in the Spirit? “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains,” but treat Robyn with selfish disregard, have I truly been infused by God’s Spirit? “If I give all I possess to the poor” out of guilt or “give over my body to hardship that I may boast”, can I truly say I commune intimately with the Spirit of Jesus? (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
But there is another baptism – the “baptism of fire”? While there are a few different understandings of the contextual meaning, I lean toward it being a type of purging of the believer; a “heat” applied to the heart that cleanses it from its impurities. If that is the accurate picture, I think I prefer the empowerment found in the baptism of the Spirit. I’m not so sure about the fire. I fully recognize my need for God to raise me above the inclinations of my heart but the “razing” of my heart sounds rather revolutionary for this would be ruler. I am not always sure I am as inviting to the Spirit’s take over – His coup. But this is His work. He serves to remove the “chaff” – the impurities in my life that prevent me from seeing the “deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). THEY SHALL SEE GOD! Can the human mind conceive any greater vision than seeing God? Then “Spirit of the Living, fall afresh on me”. Do whatever you need to do, just let me see your face! It is the cry of this husband’s heart.
It must be noted that my chaff also prevents me from seeing the heart of Robyn. With it I am blinded not only to her needs but to her dreams; blinded not only to her opinion but to her wisdom – her prophetic word from God into the life of others, including mine. In our marriage Robyn serves not just as my greatest cheerleader but as my greatest reality check as to whether I am in tune with the Spirit – or not. If I disallow the fire of the Spirit to purge me I will miss the ministry of Robyn in my life and worse I will miss a genuine, inspired ministry to her.
Jesus, come baptize our marriage with your Spirit and fire. Give us new visions of love that inspire us to see above the flesh and into the heavenlies. Send your fire to our marriage. Let it burn away every piece of straw we hold up as gold. May that which is truly gold be purified and made clean by You, the Baptizer. Amen.