HONOLULU—Christians who listen to the Holy Spirit will experience transformation and become agents of transformation, an African Baptist leader told the Baptist World Congress.
The kind of transformation the Holy Spirit produces redeems the lives of individuals, communities and all creation, said Ngwedla Paul Msiza, general secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa and president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship. Msiza addressed the July 31 evening session of the 20th Congress of the Baptist World Alliance in Honolulu.
“The transformation that is brought about by the Spirit transcends all human barriers because it is done by the Spirit of God and not by people. This kind of change goes beyond race, gender, creed and geographical boundaries,” he said.
In particular, the transforming power of God’s Spirit brings good news to the poor—both the materially needy and the spiritually impoverished, Msiza said. In fact, spiritual poverty “exacerbates material poverty because those who are rich materially but poor spiritually usually fail to share,” he said.
But too often, Msiza lamented, the church fails to listen to the Spirit of God, choosing instead to follow human agendas. When Christians stop listening to God’s transforming Spirit, their worship becomes hollow tradition and their lives drift into darkness, he said.
Msiza recalled his own experience in South Africa, where “the same people who carried guns and shot us in townships stood in pulpits and sat in pews on Sunday.”
Citing South African theologian Brian Gaybba, Msiza asserted the transforming power of the Holy Spirit extends to the whole of creation.
“We are facing the challenge of global warming,” he said. “When the Spirit of God is in us, we will live in harmony with nature.”
Christians receptive to the voice of God’s Spirit discover unity that offers a positive witness for Christ, Msiza added.
“But too often, the church is lock in on issues that are minor—things that don’t matter,” he said.
Christian who listen to God’s Spirit will follow only one agenda—God’s kingdom agenda, Msiza said. The Holy Spirit is not the property of Pentecostals or Charismatics, he insisted. Rather, he is God’s gift to the church.
“The Holy Spirit is not in heaven. The Holy Spirit is here,” he said.
And as Christians surrender to the Spirit’s leadership and follow his direction, God’s kingdom will be expanded, Msiza said.
“Our programs will fall to the wayside as his program comes forward,” he said. “The Holy Spirit will take us from our agenda to God’s agenda. The Holy Spirit of God will bring unity. … We need to say, ‘Spirit of the Lord, take control.’”