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~ Who Is the Holy Spirit? ~

Part 2 of 4

Click here for Part 1

        Visitors to my home tend to assume the gaze and demeanor of museum visitors, walking around with questions about the story behind this item or that artifact, collected from around the world and from the surrounding forest. The saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt" does not hold truth in my life, as I exert effort to always see what is familiar and routine in new ways. This saying is not even Biblically accurate, since familiarity with God only breeds a greater passion to know Him even more intimately. However, a danger is familiarity with my home and forest could dull my intrigue and excitement. Hey, it's just my familiar home. Jesus had a metaphor for this: Lukewarm. Familiarity may make us lukewarm, but lukewarm coffee or tea just sits on the table, unconsumed. Jesus had stronger words for the lukewarm: "I will spit you out of my mouth!"

        A prudent piece of instruction to follow is a saying that comes from an eastern tradition: "Look at everything as if for the first time." So I practice that, as best I can. What if this snowfall was my first? What if this mountain climb was my first? What if I was afflicted with brain damage resulting in amnesia and I was brought to my home and told this is where I am going to live? I would be so enthralled! I would spend days looking through every book, pondering every picture on the walls, handling every intriguing object, exploring every forest trail, canoeing for days on the lake studying its every feature. So why wait for disaster to push us to explore our gifts, as if for the first time? Many take a "vacation" from the familiar. However, we don't need to leave our homes for that renewal of energy. He can look at our home, our families, our sunsets and thunderstorms as if for the first time. Or that you are overwhelmed by the love of Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit, for the first time.

        Being familiar with Christianity could make us lukewarm to its radical message. Its central symbol is an ancient Roman instrument of executing criminals, a cross. Christians talk of being "washed" in "the blood of the Lamb." Jesus declared, "My flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are one with Me, and I am one with you." (John 6:55-56.) Can you appreciate how radical that sounds? Suppose you heard that "for the first time"? There were many that did, and "Because of what Jesus said, many of His disciples turned their backs on Him and stopped following Him." (John 6:66.)

        All of popular psychology and most of the world's religions concentrate on making us better persons. Christianity, on the other hand, wants to kill us and then resurrect within in a new life, with Christ replacing our old selves as the center.

        Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12.) How many Christians can claim the fulfillment of this promise in their lives? Actually, many. However, unfortunately, we read about them as though they are exceptions, somehow special. Why not the rest of us? Lukewarm? Just sitting in the cup, unconsumed. It isn't Scriptural to mellow out. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 declares, "The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord's Spirit sets us free. So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord's Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord." Our zeal should be increasing with time, not decreasing. Christ explained one complaint with the church in Ephesus: "You don't have as much love as you used to." (Rev. 2:4.) Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6.) "We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete." (Hebrews 12:2.)

        "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you." (John 14:26.) "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8.) We never stop needing the power of the Holy Spirit and God must keep reminding us of that in various ways. Jesus told the apostle Paul, "My kindness and grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak. (2 Cor. 12:9.) We don't grow the fruits of the Spirit anymore than we grow our plants. The Spirit in us bears His fruit. Let us all pray for a fresh anointing of His Holy Spirit, for our families, our churches and ourselves.

Part 3 continues here

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Weekly Reflections © August 12, 2000

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