ONE COUNSELOR (Come, Holy Spirit): When someone is sharing, listen deeply and pay attention to how the Holy Spirit might prompt you to pray.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26 RSV)
Prior to going to the cross, Jesus continued to emphasize to the disciples that he would be going away, but that this was a good thing because he was going to send to them an advocate’the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7). This was very difficult for the disciples to understand. First they had to come to learn that Jesus himself was the exact representation of the Father in human form (see Hebrews 3:1). Now they had to wrap their heads around the idea they he would leave, but send the Holy Spirit to them (also God, but in Spirit form). This was confusing for them, and it can still be confusing for us.
How do we receive or be filled with the Holy Spirit? We have talked about this in earlier readings, but it helps to reinforce that not everyone has the same experience of the Holy Spirit. Essentially, all people who come to faith and relationship with Jesus are forgiven by God of all their past sin and are justified (or made right with God). At conversion, a believer receives the Holy Spirit, which confirms in us that we are indeed children of God. This is sometimes referred to as adoption.
The Holy Spirit is available to all the children of God, but we can often ignore or fail to keep in step with the Spirit’s prompting. Sometimes we can even grieve the Holy Spirit through our sin (see Galatians 5). We can essentially fall back asleep to the Spirit, which is why as a band we need to help each other keep alert to the work of the Spirit. This is the great hope in which we come together: that we could increase our awareness of the Holy Spirit, while at the same time confessing our struggles and sin and removing the barriers that so often keep us from experiencing real freedom and salvation in our lives.
We say “One Counselor” because we know that we have this tendency toward wanting to offer counsel to others in the band. We advise against this because you likely are not professional counselors, and even if a few of you are, this would not be the context in which to practice that. As we covered in yesterday’s reading, we are not in a band to offer unsolicited advice.
Rather than offering counsel, consider your chief responsibility as that of encourager. That is to support and say things that will help keep each other in step with the Spirit and trusting God.
We often overcomplicate encouragement, but really it is learning some simple phrases (and actually meaning them). For example:
“You got this.”
“You are not alone.”
“We are with you.”
“We will stand with you in prayer.”
“I don’t have the answers, but I am so grateful you shared this.”
As we advance in trust with one another, there may be times we sense the Holy Spirit puts something in our thoughts on behalf of the others in the band. When this happens, tread lightly’this is holy ground. It is often helpful to say something like, “This may not be the Holy Spirit, but I’m sensing _____ and wonder if that resonates with you?” While this might sound confusing, try to remember that we are not counselors, but rather chief encouragers. Sometimes God will work through us to heal and comfort. A discipleship band is a fantastic place to practice spiritual gifts. With sensitivity and humility we give one another permission to say when something does not resonate, and that’s precisely why a band is a great place to learn how to minister to one another in love.
Father, I believe your Spirit can work through me to encourage and love others. Help my band to be a safe place where I can hear from you, and where I can practice encouraging others. Jesus, you have blessed my life, and I want to be a blessing to others. Amen.
Considering sharing a brief note of encouragement to each of your bandmates today. Make it brief but honest. The goal is not flattery. Invite the Spirit to help you with the words.
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