Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Holy Spirit in the Emerging Church

I have seen some discussion on the role of spiritual gifts in the emerging church, and I will watch with interest as that conversation develops. However, I would like to address what I see as an even greater role for the work of the Holy Spirit among those who are emerging.

It is my opinion that people involved in the church that is emerging trust the Holy Spirit's ability to transform the character of a believer. Rather than a fearful control to legislate behavior among believers, I have seen faith in the Spirit of Christ to produce true transformation of the heart.

Living with this kind of trust in the Holy Spirit's ability requires a suspension of judgment and criticism about what we see as failures and immaturities in the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters.

In some ways, it is very reminiscent of the old law versus grace debate, with one side (EC) resisting being putting under law and the other side claiming grace is being abused.

At emergent what the debate is over the issue of swearing. But it really doesn't matter what the topic is, the underlying argument is law versus grace. One side seems to feel that if we would simply define the topic as sinful, the matter would be settled.

But then we have resorted to legislating behavior.

The little boy next door told my girls that wearing jeans is sinful. Aware that wearing pants is contrary to my neighbors' beliefs, what am I supposed to do? Shall I apply their law to my behavior?

Recently, I have been more convicted about consumerism and materialism. Should I apply my conviction to others?

Personally, I think I better mind my own business. Keeping my own heart on track seems to be enough of a task without trying to check up on everyone else.

Whatever the background, most of us have experienced the pressure towards conformity that actually circumvents the process of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Transformation is a process that takes time, can be messy, and doesn't always proceed according to social priorities.

Freedom in Christ sounds so scary, so out of control. Surely someone will take advantage, someone will get hurt.

To trust that this could work requires some assumptions. First, we must assume that the other person is a Christian. Next, we must believe that it is their desire to obey God. Finally, we must believe that the Holy Spirit is able to bring conviction to a believer's heart.

Let's take the training wheels off and allow people to experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in their life.

10 comments:

Cindy said...

Good words, Grace.

ron said...

Beautiful...for far too long, we've forgotten about the reality of Spiritual transformation...yah, lets take off the training wheels. Pax...Ron+

Regina Clare Jane said...

I just found your blog and I am so looking forward to reading through your posts... I am new to this thinking, this emerging church, and I suddenly feel that all of my questions and feelings have been answered. Freedom in Christ- that's something I want and I need right now. Thanks for your thoughts and making so much sense!

David Cho said...

Living with this kind of trust in the Holy Spirit's ability requires a suspension of judgment and criticism about what we see as failures and immaturities in the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hear, Hear, Hear.

Thanks grace.

(Just sent you another question)

A thinker said...

Amen!!!!!

grace said...

Thanks Cindy and Ron.

Regina, it's nice to meet you. Welcome to the emerging conversation.

David, I'll get back to you soon.

a thinker, nice to meet you too.

allison said...

OK, OK, I'm jumping in. Thank you for addressing the idea that it really is all about grace vs. law (or vice versa). And for coming back to the idea of keeping our own hearts in check, as opposed to making it our business to make sure everyone else is towing the line. Of course, it does get a bit confusing to try to explain to the children that what we teach as true, may not be what others who love Jesus have come to...yet, or never. But the idea to really impress on them, we think, is the grace of God, and the love he wants us to share, and that for us, if we have to err on one side or the other, we'd rather be more accepting/loving than not. And I'm not talking about accepting the things we know to be sin, but loving those people. We all sin and fall short of the glory of the Lord. Therefore, Jesus.

P.S. We too are being challenged on the entire idea of the role of the church in our lives, and what God would have us do with it all.

grace said...

Allison,
It's great seeing you here. I love your blog.

Mostly, I have found children to be amazingly accepting and gracious of others, in spite of differences.

Sometimes when mine were younger, they could be little legalists. We had to teach them not to point and stare at people who were (gasp)smoking!

I really enjoy your writing, and I'm glad to have "met" you.

DollyMama said...

Grace,

I'm loving your blog and reading your thoughts on the emerging church. In fact, I added you to my blogroll. :)

grace said...

dollymama,
Thank you! It's nice to meet you.
I look forward to hearing your voice in this conversation.