By David B. Smith
A few years ago, I found myself sitting in the very same church where I grew up as a missionary kid. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city filled with sweet, generous people, and I felt a flood of memories as my dad fumbled through some impromptu greetings in Thai.
As I peeked at my watch, though, I was struck by the reality that back in California, my home church family was worshiping at the exact same moment. Worshipers in Thousand Oaks had recently launched a contemporary praise service that met at night — and just as Dad concluded his remarks, I knew that teenagers back home were tuning up their guitars and compiling a bunch of PowerPoint slides.
In all honesty, Christians consider that Jesus is present whenever we gather to worship and praise Him. But the risen Christ, in His gloriously resurrected form, couldn’t physically be on the premises in church services on two separate continents fifteen time zones removed from each other. However, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, I felt a definite spiritual glow in that little white church along with the aroma of rice and curry wafting through the sanctuary.
Two facts about the Holy Spirit are especially meaningful to me. First, He is a Person! The Word of God speaks about His feelings, emotions, desires, plans, objectives. “He will glorify Me,” Jesus said; Paul writes in a letter about the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” When we rebel against heaven, the Holy Spirit is capable of feeling grief (Ephesians 4:30) about our lost condition. The Church baptizes converts in the specific names of all three members of the Godhead: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” C. S. Lewis commented in Mere Christianity how some citizens of earth think of God (including the Holy Spirit) as a vague, impersonal force or cosmic “thrust” with no mind or personality — which gives people vaporous spiritual comfort but no mandate to repent or obey or follow. “Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has ever seen?” he wryly queries.
The beauty of the Holy Spirit is that He is fully God, fully omniscient, and completely omnipresent. He can be in all places at once, doing His assigned task. He can fill the minds and souls of worshipers in Thailand and Thousand Oaks simultaneously. In fact, Jesus made the specific promise that if He returned to heaven, He would send a Parakletos — a Helper or Comforter — who could lead the Church and act as Christ’s representative over the whole of earth.
Pastor Gerard Damsteegt makes the astute observation that the Holy Spirit’s task appears to be that of executor of the Father’s will. The Holy Spirit was present at the conception of Jesus as Christ-child. He empowered Jesus to work miracles and guided His mind toward ministry and life-saving teaching. He appeared in the form of a dove at Jesus’ baptism. He was poured out on the infant Church at Pentecost. The book of I Corinthians portrays the Holy Spirit as equipping you and me for unique tasks of service within the community of believers.
The second metaphor is beautiful to me because I’m a dad who once adopted a stepdaughter. It took Kami a while to learn to trust me, to believe that I had her best interests at heart. And I love the fact that the Holy Spirit comes to us as a kind of social worker, with the assignment of leading us back to our heavenly Father. The Bible speaks about spiritual adoption: how we are lonely, struggling, confused sinners who need to find our way home. And the Holy Spirit takes us by the hand and helps us to trust in God again. He encourages us; He proclaims the gospel of Jesus’ grace to us. He is not only the active divine Agent in bringing us the Word of God through inspiration — He also helps make the Bible’s truths plain and compelling. He couches our fumbling prayers in eloquence. When we’re tempted to doubt this new adopted Parent, the Holy Spirit gently reminds us how wonderful Dad is, how faithful, how secure a provider. It’s no wonder that Paul calls this unseen but faithful Friend a “Seal.” He helps us to lock in a secure and eternal relationship with the Dad who will never let us go.
David B. Smith writes from California. (5 of 28) His web page is Copyright © 2014. Click here for content usage information. Biblebay