For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (verse 13)
Swinging through sun-stoked summer air. Releasing grip. Plunging – down, down, down – into bitingly fresh, clear waters.
Those flashes of memory have stuck from a summer vacation almost twenty years ago with our kids. We’d hiked into a lake nearby our friends’ summer home (where we were staying) and found the rope-swing situated at one end, just as they’d said. One by one, the kids and I took turns mounting up on the perch, grasping the rope, launching out over the water and then, at just the right moment, breathlessly letting go. Such exhilaration! With only a split-second drop from the extended rope, the moment of crashing through the lake’s surface immediately yielded intense refreshment, as one after another we were enveloped in revitalizing coolness, from head to toe.
That immersion comes to mind in these verses. Paul is talking about being plunged into the vitality of the Spirit – immersed, overwhelmed, and enveloped in his presence. The picture speaks to the reality of conversion, leading to incorporation into the Body of Christ. That common experience for everyone who is “in Christ” is the great equalizer – each person, regardless of ethnicity or gender or social status, is equally included, each one receiving gifting for the benefit of the whole. And the one who does this is the Spirit of God himself.
I love this image of being immersed in the Spirit. The picture itself reverberates with vital refreshment, communicating the ongoing reality of life that is now ours in the Spirit himself. Further, water brings cleansing and purification, which is exactly what the Spirit does in our lives as we are incorporated into Christ – sins are forgiven, healing begins, we are transformed by his washing of renewal. But also, wonderfully, there is this all-encompassing embrace in the very presence of the Spirit himself. The whole of who we are is enveloped in the whole of who he is, just as that lake-water rushed in to surround me and my kids as we were plunged into its depths. Not a chance of coming out dry! Fully embraced by liquid presence.
But this is but one half of parallel phrases used by Paul to describe the Spirit’s work in our lives as we are incorporated into Christ. The second half equally employs the imagery of water. Not only are we plunged into the Spirit, but we drink deeply of the Spirit’s thirst-quenching vitality. I think of so many moments when my parched throat has craved the simple refreshment of cold, clear water. To grasp an icy glass full, then drink deeply, immediately revives all the way down into the whole of my being. You’ve experienced it, too, I know. This is a profound picture of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. He revives, restores, nurtures, and invigorates. “Living water” is what Jesus had promised. In the Spirit, we have received it.
The verb tenses Paul uses here look back to a decisive moment in the past when it was all accomplished. He’s speaking of conversion, revelling in the reality that each one of us who is “in Christ” has been brought into the one body by the one, life-giving Spirit. We embrace the present reality of oneness in the Body of Christ by embracing what the Spirit has already done. It is vital and refreshing and real.
But more, the same life-giving Spirit is continually at work in our lives, day by day by day, right now. The reality of being “plunged” into his enveloping presence is meant to continue. The experience of drinking deeply of his living vitality is meant to continually refresh.
He who gives the Spirit without limit (John 3:34) wants us to experience more. So, jump in. Drink deeply.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. I receive your all-embracing presence. I choose to drink, again and again, your life-giving water. I welcome you here. Thank you.
Receive: Take time to sit in the presence of the Spirit of God, allowing him to envelope you afresh. Welcome him. Receive. Drink deeply of his presence. Give thanks.