Have you been with Jesus?
In the Book of Acts we are told that when the leaders and elders of the Jews heard unschooled, ordinary Peter speak, they were amazed and they recognized that he had been with Jesus. Was it because Peter had learned to carefully repeat the words of Jesus? No, it was because Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. The very presence of God was with Him. (Acts 4:5-13)
The Apostle Paul wrote that as he and Timothy followed where Christ was leading them, a sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ would become evident to those around them: an aroma of life to those being saved and an aroma of death to those who were perishing. Was it because of their eloquent words? No, Paul tells us, it was because they were abiding in Christ and spoke knowing they were in the very presence of God. (2 Cor. 2:14-17; 12:19)
When the people of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, God would go with them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Wherever the presence of God would lead them, the people would follow. When the presence of God remained in one place, the people would rest there.
When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments in his hand, he found the people had grown impatient and had foolishly made themselves an idol. Moses was angry and threw the tablets to the ground, shattering them to pieces. God was likewise angry and told Moses He would no longer go along in midst of the people – they were so obstinate He might destroy them along the way! But Moses pleaded for his people, reminding God that they were His chosen ones. Here is a part of what Moses said to God,
“If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exod. 33:15-16)
What a thought provoking question. What distinguishes God’s people from all other people upon the earth? Is it not the very presence of God Himself? Is that not what the leaders and elders saw in Peter and the source of the fragrant aroma surrounding Paul and Timothy?
As followers of Christ, from the moment we are saved by grace through faith we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. But that is not the same thing as being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, but we must choose to live in (abide in) Christ (John 15). We must choose to lay aside the old self and live in the new life that Jesus has provided for us (Eph. 4:20-24). This is a choice we must make daily – not something we can do once and just forget about (Luke 9:23-26).
Is there a sweet aroma in your life that draws people to Christ? If not, are you content to move ahead in your life, blending in with the crowds, with nothing to distinguish you from those around you who are perishing? Or will you pursue Jesus until the sweet aroma of His presence permeates every area of your life?
Have you been with Jesus today?