- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
Without oxygen, your body will die. And without "spiritual oxygen," your spirit cannot come alive. Only the Lord can give life to your body. And only the Holy Spirit can give "spiritual oxygen" to your spirit. The Christian life is as miraculous as breath itself. Receiving life-giving oxygen into your spirit is as easy as taking your first breath after being born. It just happens.
There are many religions, but only one type of spirituality that produces life on the inside. False doctrine tends to make you proud of your religious efforts. True doctrine, on the other hand, involves an understanding of just how far you fall short of God's holy requirements. To "breathe with Jesus" means in essence that you no longer trust in your religious deeds to save you. Now you are trusting Him, and what He did for you on the cross.
Before you trusted Christ, there was no spiritual oxygen so to speak in your spirit. That's because your spirit was "dead in sin." There was not an ounce of life in it. Your soul may have been busy carrying out religious duties, but there was no breath of God in that approach. Just striving, and pressing, and pride.
Then you saw your sin and your Savior. And you wondered how you could have missed something so simple all those years. "How did I ever think I could somehow be righteous enough to gain acceptance into God's family?" You finally started to see your religious pride in all of its ugliness. And you began to breathe with Jesus. The Holy Spirit came inside you and caused your spirit to come alive. And you started to see. For the first time, you truly saw Jesus. And you have stood in awe of Him ever since.
"How could He love me so much? How could He want me in His family?" And yet, somehow you know that He does, and He did, and He will, just because. You now bask in His love. And as you do, you realize that your soul is breathing. And boy does it feel good.
That's not to say you are trusting in your feelings. It's just to say that you are enjoying this new approach to spirituality. It is fresh and real and alive. And you feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your spiritual shoulders. You no longer feel compelled to earn your way into God's good graces. And for the first time in your life, you now realize how impossible it is to get to God that way. You now understand grace because you have received it yourself. And you are so happy to be alive in Jesus.
It's hard to explain to someone what the full experience of "spiritual oxygen" is like. After all, there is an "ebb and flow" to it. Since you are still "in the body," you continue to struggle with the things of the flesh: Sickness, moods, and even spiritual attacks. That doesn't mean you fully "get it" and understand all there is to know about such attacks, but you realize that something kind of "weird" happens at times in that invisible realm. You feel pressure from somewhere. And you begin to wonder if there might just be some spiritual adversaries out there who are working against you, and your family, and your marriage, and your church, and your new life in Christ.
You read the Bible and you learn about spiritual warfare which goes on all the time in this invisible realm. You read about angels and demons and God and the devil and sin and grace. You read about men and women who were just as imperfect as you, and yet, they too were being swept along by a higher power and a holy presence. They were being energized by their Creator, and they were breathing the new life that you now breathe in your spirit.
There is a richness to your life now that is happening on another level. You cannot fully describe it. But you know that you are experiencing it because of His grace and mercy. You know that if it wasn't for God's love for you, life as we know it would ultimately be hopeless. And you want everyone to know this love which surpasses understanding. You want everyone to know Jesus and His grace.
But you have come to see that there are so many who live and die and never "get it." They are dead to Christ. That is to say, they have absolutely no interest whatsoever in His saving grace. And perhaps more than anything else in life, you simply don't understand why anyone would turn down the opportunity to breathe on the inside.
That is your new life now. Seeing spiritual things that you never saw before, while also knowing that there is so much you won't fully understand until you get to heaven. One thing this spiritual oxygen does not produce in you is pride. That ugly trait comes from another place on the inside of man, but not from this breath of God in your life. His supernatural breath in your soul produces a humility before God. You know you are sinner. And you know you have been saved by His grace, and that there is nothing you did to earn it or deserve it.
And so you breathe. And you live. And you ask the Lord to use your life to help others breathe. And then you go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again. Until your body dies. And your soul instantly gets ushered into God's heavenly kingdom.
That my friends is the life we have been given as believers. And it will never end because the breath of God is eternal. In the words of the apostle Paul, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)
So go ahead if you like. Just breathe in Jesus today. Accept Him as your Savior. Trust Him as your friend. And begin to breathe for the first time as the Holy Spirit anoints your life and your soul with His life-giving presence. Apart from the miracle of the new birth, your spirit won't ever take its first breath. And your religious striving will only lead to further and further frustration.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) And then you will know what it's like to take your first breath. It's not difficult. It's just unique and different from anything else in the world, including every other religion. Only Jesus takes religion and turns it on its head. That's because once you accept Christ, you serve Him not "in order to be saved," but "because you have been saved." (see Eph. 2:8-10) He did it all, and the spiritual oxygen flowing in your soul is a testimony to His love and salvation. This breath now moves you forward in a life of discipleship.
When Jesus breathed His last upon the cross, the world was given the gift of eternal life and the gift of spiritual breath. And as the Son of Man rose from the grave, new life began to spread across the globe. That new life has found its way to you and to the doorstep of your spirit.
Receiving Jesus into your life brings a breath of fresh air that never ends. There are of course many other ways to go through life. And every one of those alternatives is basically "breathless." Those approaches lack His touch, His grace, and His spiritual oxygen. That's why they leave you empty in your spirit.
But not Jesus. He will never leave you empty. You see, it is only when you "run out of breath" doing religious stuff that you find yourself in a position to finally breathe with Him. And once you start to inhale and exhale Christ, you never look back. Why would you? You were created to breathe. You were not created to spiritually suffocate.
After Christ's resurrection from the dead, "the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." (John 20:20) Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22) Simply put, the risen Messiah's breath changed the world from that moment on.