This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries.
“And the three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and that other guy …”
It seems a lot of times that’s how Christians view the Holy Spirit. Oh, sure, He gets mentioned sometimes, always last in some songs and creeds. You get baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In the Doxology, we “praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
But while there are plenty of songs to or about the Father, or to or about Jesus, the Holy Spirit doesn’t get many hymns of His own. He really is just sort of the other member of the Trinity.
Which is sort of ironic, in a way. On the one hand, it kind of makes sense. He doesn’t play the same sort of role in the Bible. He’s never quoted. The Father and Jesus show up, walk around, eat, talk, hang out, do miracles, all that sort of stuff. The Holy Spirit comes and fills people and places with His presence. Just not quite as sexy, you know? So it’s no wonder His Q score isn’t as high.
On the other hand, though, while He doesn’t say anything in the Bible, if you hear God speaking to you personally, yeah, it’s probably coming through the Holy Spirit. So, like I said, ironic — we’re more focused on the aspects of the Trinity that spoke to Moses and Paul than to the one that speaks to us. Why? Perhaps the words given to Moses and Paul are easier for us to hear and to listen to.
To be honest, this has been the hardest of the posts so far for me to work on. I’ve been putting it of all week, hoping that by today I would have something to say. I dedicated my hike this morning to seeking insight in what to write. Part of that is because I’m very much in the middle of this one. Several of the topics on the list are ones I’ve been deconstructing over the past couple of years, so they’re going to come pretty easily. Wait until we get to “the rite of communion.” Depending on how deep I want to get, that could easily be the longest post I’ve ever written. I’ve taken that one apart and put it back together constantly over the last couple of years. The Holy Spirit? Heh. Read my last blog post. I’m very much knee deep in that one at the moment. Ask me in a month or two, I may have something different today. But the prompt came for this week, and I’m writing it this week.
The one bit of rethinking of the Holy Spirit that I have done in the last year or two is having been challenged with the idea that the Holy Spirit does not convict us of sin. It’s one of those things that we just take for granted — if you asked people what the Holy Spirit does, for a lot of them, convicting us of sin would be pretty high in His job description. But supporting that with scripture? Well, that’s an interesting issue. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying I haven’t taken the time to find support for it yet. Instead, what I have found is that the Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness. He reminds us who we are.
In some ways, it’s similar. When we go astray, He confronts us about it. But the argument is that, rather than pointing out our failures, He points out that we’re better than that. Picture a student who has failed a test he “should have” passed. A parent could berate the child and punish him. Or a parent could say, I know you can do this. What happened? God doesn’t need to convict us of our sin. Since the fall, since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we’ve carried that ability within ourselves. We’re self-policing. We just choose to ignore that fact sometimes. We choose to ignore who we are, who we should and could be. When we do, the Holy Spirit reminds us.
I’m not saying I’ve completely drunk that Kool-Ade. I’m just saying it’s an interesting argument I’m still considering.
Another fact that I was reminded of in meditating on this blog entry is that I’m not, technically, the Holy Spirit. Oh, sure, sometimes I would like to be, but it seems that the position is full, and that they’re not hiring for it at the moment.
Now, I believe fully that the Holy Spirit can work through other people. If He can speak to a person, He can speak through a person. And I’ve had that happen numerous times recently — people have given me a word that was given them for me by God. Heck, I think I may have had it happen in the last couple of hours. And, conversely, there have been times the opposite has been true. I’ve been given something to say that was a message for someone else. And it’s an incredible honor to be used in that capacity. In some ways, that’s unfortunate, because there can be a temptation to seek that privilege, to take it upon ourselves to serve as the Holy Spirit in someone’s life, rather than serving as the tool of the Holy Spirit. And, really, that’s not such a good idea. Again, a fault I probably have lapsed into during the past week. Sorry.
The other thing that came out of my hike was a meditation on the different ways He speaks to us, which has definitely been a journey for me over the past couple of years. To be honest, me three years ago would probably think me today is crazy. But oh well. I’ve never had Him speak to me in dreams, but I’ve seen it happen. Someone was telling me about a friend who gets mental pictures, and was trying to figure out whey she didn’t. I said I figured it was an individual dispensation, that I didn’t either; only to realize that I did — once. I used to listen primarily to providence and circumstance, and now try to avoid as much as possible relying on those. Occasionally He uses the weather with me, but generally just when He’s showing off. I’ve never heard an actual audible voice, and am jealous of those who have. I don’t begin to understand the whole idea of prayer languages, but have been open to the idea that the lack of understanding is my fault — and then heard a story over lunch today that pretty much sold me on that. Still kinda glad it’s not my gifting, though.
At this point, I wish I had a good conclusion or wrap up or parting thought. But I don’t. Like I said, I’m still working through this one.
Uh, the end?
“The best apologetic for a Christian is the Holy Spirit” — Patrick Collins