Saturday, June 7, 2014

The God Who Comes Nearest: A Simple Reflection on Pentecost


God came near humanity through Israel and his Covenant with it, the Law he gave it, the Temple he directed her to build for his “home,” and the Hope his promise generated in it.

God came nearer at Christmas when he took on human flesh as Jesus of Nazareth.

On Pentecost God comes nearest, as near as possible, when the Spirit comes to dwell within us.

The Spirit is our Covenant – he completes and realizes the relationship God wants with us in us (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).

12 So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. 13 We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were closed. Right up to the present day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil is not removed because it is taken away by Christ. 15 Even today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

The Spirit is our Law – the power to hear and heed the Word God speaks to us through his Son (Romans 8:4).

4 He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness.

 

The Spirit is our Temple – he makes us into God’s own “home” (Ephesians 2:21-22).

21 The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. 22 Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

 

The Spirit is our Hope – he is our hope, his presence a guarantee of final fulfillment (Romans 8:23b-25).

We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

 

God’s movement in scripture is always from heaven to earth – heaven to earth in creation to Tabernacle/Temple to Jesus to New Jerusalem.  God is always seeking deeper enfleshment in the world he created.  God has planned and brought the world into being (God the Father); took up residence in this world as one of us (God the Son); and has now penetrated to its very core by indwelling us in our innermost being (God the Spirit).  All that God desires and all that we need is given us in the Spirit. 

Yet the Spirit is also the “Spirit of Jesus” (Philippians 1:19) as Jesus is the Son of the Father.  So the Spirit’s work is inextricably intertwined with and interdependent that of the Father and the Son as is that of the divine life itself.  Life in and with the Spirit is then life in and with the Triune God.  And that, that is the deepest meaning of Pentecost. 

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