Friday, July 8, 2011

Week #25 1 John 4:13 "Not Merely an Emotion"

"We know that we live in Him and He is us, because He has given us of His Spirit."

If you're anything like me, you have found that there is a lot of confusion and disagreement surrounding the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is, for many of us, the most mysterious and hard to understand person in the Trinity.

But, the Spirit is worth trying to understand. After all, I find that the quality of my relationship with God, how I process what is happening in my life and in the world, and even my preferred style of worship on Sunday morning is affected by my beliefs about the Holy Spirit.

In fact, if it weren't for the Holy Spirit, I may never have experienced healing from my depression. (Although my depression still pops up once in a while.) I probably wouldn't still be a Christian...I would have gotten too discouraged and given that up a long time ago. And I definitely couldn't have made some of the difficult decisions in life that I have without His guidance and assurance.

So, who is this Spirit anyway, and why do I give Him so much credit? I am no expert, but here are some of the most valuable things I have learned.

First, the Holy Spirit is not an emotion. The Holy Spirit is not the same thing as "school spirit" during a college football game or a wave of emotion that we get caught up in during a moving and inspirational moment. Yes, there are times that the Spirit speaks to our feelings and uses them to guide us, but He is not primarily a feeling.

Second, the Holy Spirit is a person. No, that doesn't mean that He is a human being. It means that He has qualities that the Bible defines in personal terms. He teaches, comforts, guides and speaks. He has emotions and intellect. He is united with God and Jesus, but is also individually His own person.

Thirdly, I have learned that the Spirit speaks to and guides us even today. The New Testament is filled with stories of early believers being guided and enlightened by the Spirit. That still happens today, to all of us "regular" Christians as well. I know from experience that it does.

And fourthly, I know that the Holy Spirit dwells in me and is my constant companion. He gives me the words to say during those times I must speak God's thoughts to others. He assures me that I am loved when the people in my life snub me or ignore me. He reminds me of just the right Bible verse to help me through a tough situation.

No, a mere emotion or group wave of consciousness could ever do that. Only a personal, divine companion can accomplish that.

So, as 1 John tells us, we know that we belong to God because God gave us His Spirit. I know my faith in God is not just an intellectual assent to His existence. It is not just a theoretical understanding of His principles and values. My faith is a real relationship that transforms my life from aloneness to united-ness (is that even a word?).

You get what I mean.

Thanks to the indwelling companionship and mentorship of the Holy Spirit, I am never alone. And neither are you.

Thank you, God.

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