It’s lovely to have you join us for Tuesday’s podcast. Our Bible reading today is 1 Thessalonians 3 vs11-13, and I am going to focus on just one word: infused.
Verse 13 in The Message translation says, “May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father.”
I am sure many of you will be sat with a cup of tea right now as you listen to or read this podcast.
Personally I am not a tea drinker but, in my mind, it’s making a cup of tea that best explains what the word ‘infuse’ means or describes.
The dictionary says that to infuse something means to soak in order to extract the flavour, to fill, pervade or permeate. Something that is infused is altered – most often for the better.
Now, I know some people have very strong views on the right and proper way to make a cup of tea, so please don’t judge me in these next few sentences, but………
When you add hot water to tea leaves, and give them time to brew (or mash, or steep) or soak in the water, then the flavour of those leaves – whether they be Yorkshire, Darjeling, Earl Grey or lemon and ginger – the flavour begins to permeate and fill the water until its appearance, its smell, and its taste are altered. The liquid is no longer just water; it is a cup of tea.
If you have a cup in front of you, feel free to take a sip right now! That is infusion.
The other word in that dictionary definition was pervade.
The other week I bought some lilies. I love having flowers in the house, and lilies always look so dramatic and make a great display. These particular ones opened up brilliantly and were really very impressive.
However, lilies don’t just stand in a vase and look good. They have a very strong scent, and within a few days this will pervade every room in your house, and you cannot smell anything else besides this.
Just as tea alters the taste of water, so lilies alter the atmosphere of a room. Their scent totally infuses their surroundings.
Moving on from tea and flowers, what does this mean in our relationship with Jesus, and for our relationship to others?
Well, if we want to be a follower of Christ then we need to be prepared to be infused by Christ – to take on his appearance, his characteristics, to become like Him, to be altered.
And if we are to be fully infused with all that Christ has to give us, then we need to soak in His presence.
If you just dip the tea bag in the water for 2 seconds and then whip it out again, the flavour of the water is barely changed; it’s very weak.
In verse 13, however, Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is that they would be infused with strength and filled with confidence. And this takes time.
I have heard from many people who say that this period of lockdown has provided them with just this opportunity – with the time to let Christ soak into their lives in a new way.
For some this soaking in Christ has come through greater opportunities for prayer, or having more time to listen to God. Others I know have spoken about the fact that now the busyness of everyday life is not all pervading, they are able to fill their mind with the things of God instead……like noticing the small things and being thankful for them, or seeing God at work through the wonder of creation and the changing seasons.
How might God be calling you to use this lockdown period to soak in Christ? Where do you need to be infused with his strength and filled with confidence? Are there areas of your life that need altering or changing, as you take on the flavour or the attributes of Jesus?
This Sunday coming we celebrate Pentecost. It’s the time in the Christian calendar when we remember the first disciples receiving the Holy Spirit and the church being born.
Acts Chapter 2 is full of the language of infusion.
First, the wind of the Spirit filled the whole building. Secondly it spread through their ranks. And finally, the Holy Spirit filled each one of them gathered in the upper room. And they were fundamentally changed and altered.
And this is where we see the second aspect of infusion at work.
I said that lilies don’t just stand in a vase and look good. The smell of the lilies pervades and permeates their surroundings and changes the atmosphere.
The disciples didn’t just stand in the upper room looking pretty impressive with flames on their head.
The disciples, once they were filled, or infused, with the Holy Spirit, spilled out into the surrounding crowd and told them how Jesus could change their lives. They altered the atmosphere in Jerusalem.
Paul had the same desire for the Thessalonians – in verse 12 his prayer is that God would make their love for others increase and overflow. He wants the Christians in Thessalonica to be so totally infused, so filled, with the love of Christ that it just spills out to those around them.
And we have the same call upon our lives.
When you look in a cup of tea, you don’t see the water that it used to be – you see tea. When you drink it, you don’t get the flavour of water – you taste tea.
And so when people look at us, at our lives, how we conduct ourselves, how we relate to others – they should see Jesus, experience Jesus and get the taste and flavour of Jesus expressed through our love for one another and our love for others.
How can we enable the love of Christ to permeate our surroundings – so that others might taste and see that God is good? Where are we being called to change or alter the atmosphere – maybe in our workplace, our home, or school – by always showing love to others?
I’d like to leave you with 2 tasks for the rest of the week:
Firstly, every time you make yourself a cup of tea, pray that you would be infused with Christ, and pray that his love would overflow from you into the lives of those around you.
And secondly, buy two bunches of lilies – one to decorate your home over Pentecost, and the other as a gift, to show God’s love to someone else.
Heavenly Father, fill us with your Holy Spirit today, give us time and space to soak in the presence of Jesus, that we may be infused by Him and changed for the better. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-16 (MSG)
May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.