Do you have any friends or colleagues who are great at what they do, but don’t always get the credit they deserve? Perhaps it’s a work colleague, a sport’s teammate, or just a really good person in your close group of friends. They’re a constant contributor, but they sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
This is how some say we view the Holy Spirit.
We talk much about faith, following Jesus, having a healthy and robust spirituality, understanding God’s will and plan, discernment, but often forget who is actually behind the scenes leading, empowering, helping, comforting, and making it possible – The Holy Spirit. But why is it that the third person of the trinity is sometimes seen as “the other one”? One writer describes him like this, “Some say the Spirit is a distant member of the trinity. Neglected almost. Like Cinderella. Father & Son are at the Ball while the Spirit is home washing the floors.”
Over the next few weeks/posts we want to investigate the Holy Spirit and what it means to is be ‘S’piritual.
The Spirit may sometimes be forgotten, but he’s never out of the picture. He’s always here. We have to welcome him, acknowledge him, be aware of him, and if need be, invite him (even though he’s already here). From the first words of Genesis, we are made aware that God’s Spirit is very present. Intentionally included from the writer of Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
If there’s one thing we want to appreciate and understand about the Holy Spirit, it’s this – He is present.
The New Testament talks about him being present in 3 ways: He is WITH us, he is IN us and he is ON us.
In Jesus’ closing remarks before heading to heaven, in what we call the great commission, he says that ‘he will be with them always, to the very end of the age’. How could he be with them if he was leaving? How could he assure them of this on his way out? Was he lying? Was he giving them a false hope? Neither. He actually meant it.
We read these words in John 14, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Jesus tells his first disciples and us that he will be with us, to help us, to comfort us, to assure us, etc. How? Through the Holy Spirit.
Notice that he also says he would be in us. ( John 14:17b)
In Romans 8, Paul does a masterful job of connecting the Jesus story to the role of the Spirit. He teaches the early church that it’s God’s Spirit in them that gives them the power to live out the ways of Jesus. Through out that text, a number of times, Paul says that it’s God’s Spirit who will live in us and enable us to live a life that follows Jesus and reflects his Kingdom values. The Holy Spirit also enables us to be children of God. In a sense, he’s the one who signs the adoption papers. If you’ve ever watched, witnessed, or have been close to an adoption story, you know how beautiful it is when a boy or girl find a home to belong to. This is what the HS does for us.
When the Holy Spirit abides in our hearts, it is he who makes us understand that the Lord is near and takes care of us. (Pope Francis)
We desire the ability to do good – the power to make a difference – the gifts to be on mission and do justice. The Holy Spirit comes ON us to do that through us.
Acts 1:8 says, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses. This is Jesus promise to us, but we saw it on him first.
In Luke 4 (cf Isa 61) we read,
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Jesus said we would do greater things than he did. That is only possible because the same Spirit that was on him is on us. This means that I can be a good news person…a proclaimer of freedom…a restorer of sight…a reconciler of brokenness…all because the Holy Spirit is ON me.
Here’s the question – will you be open to all that the Spirit has for you? Will you invite him to be with you, in you and on you? Every day – In every way!
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small(er) group questions:
What do you think about when you think about the Holy Spirit? How would you define or describe him?
Read John 14:15-17(above). How can you speak to that verse? What about Jesus’ use of the word ‘advocate’ (helper, defender, one who speaks in your defence). How do you sense the Spirit is that for you? What does it mean to you that the Holy Spirit is WITH you?
In Romans 8 we understand the Spirit’s role in us is to enable us to live a life for Christ and to identify as children of God. Can you describe what it means that you’ve been adopted into God’s family via the Holy Spirit’s presence IN you?
What about Acts 1:8 is exciting, empowering, mysterious? Have you sensed God’s Spirit on you for a specific task? Big or small? How’d it feel? What did you do? How did you respond?
What would you like to learn about the Holy Spirit in the next few weeks? Anything you’d like to see clarified? Any questions around him, his role, the trinity, being aware of his presence, etc.?