Thursday, October 27, 2016

Some Theses on the Church in North America Today (5)

5.    That brings us to the Holy Spirit, the most elusive yet important member of the trinity for us in North America. The Spirit has been called the “shy” member of the Godhead because his task is to keep our attention focused on Jesus and animate Jesus’ life in us. He is elusive in himself and in particular for us westerners, “can do” pragmatists, who prefer control and predictability. For the Spirit fundamentally means “out of control.” We know this from various expressions of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. But even more importantly from the book of Acts where the Spirit instructs, guides, and countermands human plans and purposes. The church here desperately needs to recover the kind of relationship to the Spirit the early church had.

a.    That relationship is best described, I think, by Buzz Lightyear of “Toy Store” fame describing flying to Woody as “controlled falling.”

b.    The Spirit is animate, intimate charisma of the life of God restlessly and relentlessly prodding, wooing, and completing God’s work in us and our world.

c.    “The Holy Spirit is the living God, not some inert concept. The church community has to trust the Holy Spirit in every decision and believe strongly that the Spirit continues to be present in the community and at work in it. The Spirit will not permit our community to grope about to darkness, if only we are willing to take the Spirit’s teachings seriously…”[1]                                                             
d.    John V. Taylor aptly called the Spirit “the Go-Between God.” That’s the heart of the Spirit’s work, “going between” us and bringing us together in deeper forms of community.

[1] From Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s sermon for Whitsunday, 1940. Cited in The Cost of Moral Leadership: The Spirituality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson, 51.

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