John 14:17 (NIV) – “…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.”
When I worked for one of the major home improvement stores part of my job was to assemble, maintain, and “repair” (and I use that word loosely) both hand and power tools. Sometimes after assembling a tool or putting a motor back together I would notice that there would still be a part sitting on my bench; a nut, a bolt, or a screw. For the life of me I could not figure out where the part came from and more importantly I could not see where it went or where it fit. I would look at the piece until I was blue in the face, but to no avail I just could not understand how or where it fit; so I eventually set the part aside. When it came time to test the tool I crossed my fingers and low and behold the tool ran fine without that silly extra part. Over time, however, the tool would need to be repaired because it was not functioning properly; I wondered if the cause might have something to do with that “insignificant” part that I sat aside.
This is how many Christians treat the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit is a part of the Divine package, the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What most of us do not understand is how and where the Holy Spirit fits into the grand scheme of things. God the Father, Creator, Master, the All Mighty, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, and so on and so forth we Christians understand His importance and place in the big picture. God the Son, Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, the God- man, because He became flesh we can associate with Him and recognize His significance in the grand scope. God the Holy Spirit; come on, off the top of your head list some other names for the Holy Spirit! The Holy Ghost, Counselor, Guide; most of us cannot list but a few and the truth is that the Holy Spirit is a mystery to most of us. In our ignorance we tend to set this seemingly insignificant piece of the Kingdom of God aside. Over time, however, our spiritual growth begins to be lag behind and we begin to wonder why we are stuck in this same religious rut. We start to question our spirituality, “Am I going to Heaven”, or “Am I truly saved”. We know that something is missing, but we just do not know what it is. “Maybe it was that Holy Spirit thing I sat aside so long ago?” we think to ourselves, “Now where did I leave that thing?”
Jesus understood that there would be an issue with understanding the Holy Spirit when He said, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” It is nearly impossible for the Fleshian to wrap his heads around, not to mention his arms, around the concept of the Holy Spirit and even harder to place the Holy Spirit with the Trinity. Though we know and accept God the Creator … as being “invisible” and a spirit for some reason when we think of God the Holy Spirit the word spirit conjures up visions of an impersonal energy field floating through the air. Perhaps this is why we often times hear the Holy Spirit referred to as the Holy Ghost. It is easy to understand why the Fleshian would set the Holy Spirit aside as insignificant, but Jesus said it should not be a problem for the Christian; read the rest of the verse, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” - John 14:17. Why if we as Christians “know him” and “he lives with you and will be in you” do we set him aside when we cannot understand where he fits? We can look at the Holy Spirit, read about the Holy Spirit, sing about the Holy Spirit until we are blue in the face and not figure out what its purpose is. We can know that it belongs in the somewhere in the tool, it belongs in the big picture, it belongs in the Trinity, but for the life of us we cannot see or understand where it fits. So we set it aside and hope that our Christianity works out without it.
A little content note to those of you who already understand where the Holy Spirit fits into the grand scheme of things and where He fits into your life. The title of this article may seem irreverent and blasphemous, that is certainly not my intention; I entitled this article, “So do I call you Mr. Spirit or just Holy?” not out of irreverence, but because I believe that our understanding of the Holy Spirit, or our ability to properly place the Holy Spirit into the whole begins with a formal introduction. For many of us the Holy Spirit is a cold, inanimate concept and it is not until we come face to face with Him and shake His hand that we can begin to properly place the Holy Spirit into our lives and into the larger picture.
It all starts with the introduction. The introduction tells the person that you are interested in knowing them on a different level; that level will be established during the introduction. Though it may not seem appropriate I really like this introduction, “So do I call you Mr. Spirit or just Holy” because it reveals to the introducee that I the introducer am interested in any kind of relationship; formal or casual as long as we have a relationship. The Holy Spirit’s response to this introduction will establish what He believes you need from the relationship; do you need to be more formal, “Mr. Spirit”, or a bit less reserved, “Holy.” Either way this “inappropriate”, blasphemous, introduction quickly sets the boundaries, the limits, and the rules of both parties. As Christians we need to be in a relationship with the Holy Spirit whether formal or a little friendlier and the introduction is the first step.
Once the introductions are made we can begin to wipe away all of the misconceptions about the Holy Spirit we may have had. We soon realize that the Holy Spirit is a very important piece in the big picture and plays a vital role in our lives. The first misconception Jesus nixes right away; that of the Holy Spirit being some invisible, floating, blob of energy. Jesus uses the physical pronoun “Him” more than a few times in the passage above while describing the Holy Spirit. This is a big deal if you understand that in the original Greek the word for spirit is neuter (not male or female) and yet Jesus went out of His way to personalize the word. The Holy Spirit has feelings, love (Romans 15:30), grief (Eph. 4:30), and rejection (Heb. 10:29). The Holy Spirit has a will; in 1 Cor. 12:11 He gives gifts to whomever He chooses. He speaks as Acts 21:11 suggests. He rebukes, corrects, leads, and suggests. He teaches as Jesus explains in John 14:26, and prays as Paul tells us in Romans 8:27. These are all qualities of a real person; qualities that allow and beg for an intimate relationship; these are qualities that we find in the other two persons of the Trinity.
The second misconception or mistake that we Christians make with the Holy Spirit is that we believe that He can somehow be laid aside. Jesus tells us that this is not possible because, “for he lives with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit is closer to any of us and yet He is the one we end up not understanding and the one we tend to lay aside. Since day one of our Christian walk the Holy Spirit has set up camp “in you” (there is some theology out there that suggests that He may have been there all along); His hand has been extended waiting for you to formerly introduce yourself. Because “He lives with you and will be in you” we cannot afford to lay Him aside; He is an integral part of who we are. It is no wonder so many Christians (me included) have had or have such difficulty with their Christianity. The Apostle Paul takes the relationship even further; well past the introduction, when he says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” - I Corinthians 6:19 -20. You cannot get any more “integral” than that?
Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is a vital part of our Christian walk. It is unfortunate that many of us have not extended our hands in an attempt to introduce ourselves, but it all begins with the introduction. Our misconceptions are formed by our ignorance of who the Holy Spirit is, what is His purpose, and how does the Holy Spirit react with my life. Like I said at the beginning of this article it is very possible for a tool to function without that one piece, it is possible to walk like, talk like, and smell like a Christian without understanding the Holy Spirit. Eventually however that tool will not perform correctly or even break; eventually for the Christian we will end up discouraged, broken, and in doubt of our salvation without the Holy Spirit in our lives (give me an Amen if you have been there). Take that first step, walk right up to the Holy Spirit with your hand extended and say, “So do I call you Mr. Spirit or can I call you Holy?” Listen for His response and follow His lead; become close, intimate friends with the Holy Spirit; always turn to Him first. It all starts, however, with that introduction.
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