A Fresh Look at Fullness of the Spirit
Many of us have grown up under the notion that we need to keep being filled with the Spirit ‘because we leak’. I don’t know the origin of the phrase, but many a preacher has referred to it. The picture says we are like a buckets with one or more holes in and so we keep coming for fresh supplies of the Spirit and then off we go again. We are concerned for our leaks and try and have as few as possible- the leak being a character flaw.
How does this square with what Jesus said? He said that out of our innermost being would flow rivers of living water, and this was to be the experience of every believer in relation to the Holy Spirit. (John 7) It’s tough to contain one river in a bucket let alone several. Suddenly bucket and hole analogies come a bit unstuck.
The trouble with the container analogy is that it puts limits on what we can receive, contain and give away. And yet scripture tells us he gives the Spirit without measure (John 3;34). We also tend to get all inward looking and worried about our leaks, overly concerned with getting ourselves sorted out. And buckets have to be filled, you go somewhere with it to get new supply, a bucket is not a source in itself.
Jesus said when you drink the Spirit by coming to Him you become a source of the Spirit. The dry and thirsty become springs (sources) themselves (John 4;14). His concept is that because he has gone to the Father we get continuous, limitless, fresh supplies of the Spirit flowing out of the inside of us. We actually become like God, who is himself ‘the spring of living water’ (Jer 2;13). The new creation has no holes in it. The plumbing is excellent and the supply infinite so what we can receive is unlimited and hence what we can do in the flow of the fullness of the Spirit is limitless too.
Using words like ‘rivers’ and ‘living water’ Jesus is using powerful picture language to a people used to arid conditions; a people who fight over the rights to a single well because it is so precious. Living water is fresh, not stored or stagnant; ‘rivers’ point to crazy amounts of abundance.
So to be filled with the Spirit; to be filled to the measure of the fullness of God, is to be full like a rushing river(s) not a bucket. It’s to be in a place that says I am a vibrant source not an emptying bucket, its to know our supply is unending, immeasurable and given freely. A river has life, force and power and in Christ so do we.