“John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’” — Luke 3:16
My friend and I, both native English speakers, showed an interest in the Spanish language in high school. We took required Spanish courses and practiced speaking Spanish as often as we could.
I continued to be interested in the Spanish language while in college but did not pursue it as an academic study. I practiced Spanish occasionally, but my speaking was limited. My friend was a different story.
He went to college for an education major and Spanish minor and spent a year in college studying abroad. The next time I saw him and heard him interact in Spanish, it was as if Spanish were his first language! Though we were at a similar level in high school, he was now an authentic communicator in ways that allowed him to comfortably communicate with any Spanish-speaking person. How was he doing this?
The answer: His year abroad was in Spain. For an entire year, he was immersed in the language and culture of a Spanish-speaking country—so much so that his confidence and comfort level were seemingly the same in Spanish as in English. Learning Spanish in a classroom and with relatively limited interaction with native Spanish-speaking people is helpful, but it not the same as being immersed in the rhythms of the language, people, and culture.
The same is true for Christianity. This is why John the Baptist says in Luke 3 that Jesus’ baptism will be a deep immersion into the ways of God: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
As followers of Christ, we are called to have more than just knowledge about Jesus or periodic interactions with Him. We are called to be immersed in the ways of Jesus and the Kingdom of God so that it becomes our “first language.” This is the way of Jesus, which is the way of love and holiness.
Prayer for the Week:
Gracious God: Thank you for your call to surrender fully to Jesus and to be so immersed in the ways of Your Spirit that we become true citizens of the Kingdom of God, reflecting You in all that we say and do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Charles W. Christian is managing editor of Holiness Today.
Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.