Humanity has always been moved by an inner urge to believe in something more than the obvious and visible world. We traditionally spoke of body mind soul and spirit. In our contemporary western secular society we have dismissed a belief in spirit.
At our Relational Spirituality discussion on Wednesday evening we noted that with the loss of respect for traditional Spirituality it will not totally fade away. The urge seeks new avenues and we mentioned the growing interest in the spirit of Anzac, Australia Day the preoccupation with fire works at major celebrations like New Year.
Our faith is built upon experiences like the out-pouring of Spirit. Today we are celebrating this particular happening in the earliest gatherings of Jesus followers.We call it Pentecost for it was a day in which the Jewish nation gathered to worship God in thanksgiving for the fruit of the harvest, 50 days after the Passover.
For Jesus followers an extraordinary manifestation of Spirit was evident through the sense of a mighty wind and apparent tongues of fire. The people all spoke in the tongues of their own language but could understand one another. It was a magnificent display of unity and pointed to a fundamental belief of Christianity. The spirit is that which unites us.
THE CONTEMPORAY CHALLENGE
The baffling challenge for Christianity in our times is that few in society respect the truth and place of spirit in life. Perhaps we have become too complacent in our relatively comfortable life style.
What I propose is that our traditional explanations were once adequate for the way people understood life, but with our current knowledge such explanations are not resonating with people. My point is that all of reality is spirit, from the most profound mystical notion of God through to the most mundane expression of matter.
Reality has many expressions. If we could see that all is regarded as Spirit then we would live differently.
We have traditionally identified Spirit as something unique and different. Numerous stories of the Spirits action in life are recorded down through the history in Scripture. Scripture speaks of Spirit in creation, as shaping history, as uttering wisdom through the prophets. From these examples we assume that the spirit is not present in other events.
The life of Jesus began a major development.
The Spirit is involved in Jesus baptism identified in the form of the dove descending upon him as he came up out of the water. It leads him into the wilderness.On his return to village life, Jesus declares in the synagogue that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, …etc.
The most significant revelation follows the resurrection. On the day of resurrection Jesus appears in the upper room, breathes on them and he says receive the Holy Spirit. As Jesus has revealed the divine reality to us, so the risen spirit of Jesus is now to live and witness through us.
As I’ve already mentioned the great out pouring of the Spirit which took place on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, highlighting the place of the community of Jesus as the united body through which the Spirit would work.
At this point I want to ask. “Is this the full picture of the Spirit. I want to answer, “No”.
These are a list of significant highlights to give us greater clarity in our understanding of the nature of the spirit.
The illustration that comes to my mind is the Ocean. On its surface, we sea a great array of conditions, from calm waters to raging storms. Peaceful rhythmic waves lapping the sandy shore line, to giant like swells that threaten the stability of massive ships.
We see glorious sunsets to life threatening storms. And so we ask, is this the full nature of the Ocean? and naturally we conclude, “no where near it”
The greater picture is one of a great mystery.We must venture into its depths and so our perceptions expands to the point of saying its fullness is a mystery.
So what of the Spirit. Like the Ocean, it is the totality of all that is. Much remains a mystery, but in that mystery is the fullness of life. I believe the Spirit is the totality of life, but like the surface of the ocean we see a partial display of its work.
What this means is that our vision, or what some might call, our mental model of life, needs to expand and realize that our whole life is lived in the Spirit, even the most mundane events or experiences.
The Christian call is to awaken to this reality.
Walk in the Spirit
Can you imagine the transformation this would make to the people of our community, to our society, to our world?