Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What About the Holy Spirit?

I've been thinking lately about the Holy Spirit, especially in regard to the emerging/missional conversation.

The charismatics are credited with having the inside scoop about the Holy Spirit. However having come from there, I sometimes wonder if we really have a better understanding of the Holy Spirit or just of His toys - manifestations, spiritual gifts, and power.

Graham Cooke talks about how we view the Holy Spirit. We know the Father, and we know the Son, but the Holy Spirit is a bird?!

It is our inheritance to know the mind and heart of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is our downpayment of that inheritance. He is our constant companion and teacher in walking according to the purposes of the Father.

Unless we embrace and understand the necessity of His role in the life of a Christ-follower, I believe that our missional identity will be lacking the very mDNA we need to be the people of God.

I guess what I'm saying is that the Holy Spirit is our mDNA. Without Him we cannot be transformed into our true identity and purpose.

Why don't we have disciples? Because you can teach people about the Bible and Jesus and God and the church for 50 years, but until a person takes the first baby steps of developing a relationship of dependence of the Spirit, they won't be transformed.

You can be a good church-goer without ever learning to walk with the Spirit. In fact, walking with the Spirit can be a hindrance to fitting in with the church program. I dare say that we have taught people the church routine at the expense of teaching them the necessity of reliance on the Spirit for their activity and direction.

This is the missional element that will make the difference between being nice people doing works of service and justice or being people empowered with the life of the Spirit. We can't expect to fulfill the purposes of God without having an ongoing revelation of His heart and mind.

It matters not whether we're emerging, charismatic, baptist, or orthodox; we cannot truly live the life of a Christ-follower without a real relationship with the Holy Spirit. Sure we can go to church, but how do we live a life of everyday mission without seeing what the Father is doing? We were given the Holy Spirit for this very purpose, to show us the daily, in-the-moment things that we need to know in order to be in step with the Father's heart.

Our very identity as the people of God is dependent on our understanding of the purpose of the Holy Spirit in our life.

Are we really living as a people who have revelation of the mind and heart of the Father? How can we expect to understand His kingdom vision without entering into relationship with the Spirit given to us to provide that understanding.

We don't need to learn more about the Holy Spirit, but rather we need to become acquainted with Him, to develop a relationship of ongoing reliance and dependence on His guidance and insight into the kingdom realm.

We weren't created to just be church-goers. The people of God are to colabor with God, incarnating His life, hope, love, and redemption in all that we are and do. It is only by walking with the Spirit that we are enabled to live according to our true identity and purpose.


Tom Reindl said...


I think part of the problem is that Christians tend to see God as three distinctly different people, not so much as the single person that theology hints about. That means people are trying to have three distinct relationships with three different people, and then trying to call those three "one".
It doesn't work.

There is only One, and we use three different names. Even Jesus said "I and the Father are One" and "God is Spirit". I think if we tend toward this oneness, rather than towards three persons, relationship will become more natural. I think there is confusion, and especially in church theology where some people spend countless hours trying to figure out the role of each of the three.

There is only One. Some give him three names. It doesn't matter how many names He has; he's still One, and lives inside of each of us. We don't have to go anywhere to meet with him, do anything special to be in his presence, or lock the doors and put earplugs in to speak with him. We don't have to pray to Jesus, then to God, and then to the Holy Spirit. We pray to One. He is everything we can describe him as in our various different names, but he is still One.

A changed life is already living inside of us, all we have to do is realize it, and believe that God has been there all of the time.

Good hope to you, Grace.

joshua case said...


Thanks for the processing once again. I love the idea of colaboring with God..maybe even cocreating with God is a different way to see life in God's image as partners with the Spirit in our real world. Real beautiful language you use here.

I was also wondering where you got your use of the word 'mDNA'? I am reading a book right now by Alan Hirsch called "The Forgotten Ways" and he seems to use this very often. Its part of his missional equation for the 'missional community of Jesus' today? Have you been reading that as well?

Inheritor of Heaven said...

As a Pastor Del Rossin used to say, "I don't want the Holy Spirit to be resident in my life, I want him to be president. As Paul says the kingdom depends not on words but on power and I interpret that to mean what you are talking about here...the "ongoing reliance and dependence on his guidance and insight into the kingdom realm". I have noticed often that after a difficult day at work, eating a quick dinner and then coming to a counseling/deliverance appointment we will pray for the Spirit to lead because we have nothing to give on our own. He always does and it is amazing how he takes a team of 2 or 3 who are seeking his wisdom and discernment (because of their lack thereof) and gives exactly what they need to bless the person who came in for counseling or deliverance. It is a humbling thing that God works through us in our state of brokenness and need. It is joyous to see the resulting joy in the spirit of the person receiving the blessing God uses us to give. That is the whole purpose in being missional (along with sharing the Good News of Christ to those who don't know it yet).

grace said...

Yes, a good reminder of the divine nature and oneness of Father, Son, and Spirit, all fully God.

While they are one in divine nature, they are also distinct. I agree that becoming overly technical about whether we're discussing Father, Son, or Spirit can be confusing and sometimes unnecessary, particularly in trying to pray in formulaic ways.

However, I also see that pursuing a greater understanding and revelation concerning Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can help us grow in our wisdom and knowledge of God.

Your comment is so true, that we would simply awaken to realize the life indwelling us. Hopefully this post was an encouragement towards understanding the divine nature that is available to us in living out the mission we were created for.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this.

Your thoughts about co-creating with God spark all sorts of thoughts within me regarding the potential of words, naming, calling forth, and prophecy. Maybe a future post. :)

I probably first heard mDNA in the blogosphere in regard to Alan Hirsch. I've only just started the book Forgotten Way, so I'm not sure yet if I'm using it in the same context that he does.

My assumption is that if there is a divine seed within us that produces the fruit of a missional life, surely that seed must be the Holy Spirit given to impart to us the divine nature of the kingdom.

I really appreciated your example that it is often out of our own emptiness that we can recognize the work of the Spirit.

One of the biggest hindrances to reliance on the Spirit is that we can be so active without Him.

In fact, it sometimes takes forced inactivity of our own plans to learn to walk in step with what the Spirit is doing.

I always appreciate the wisdom you have to share.

Bryan Riley said...

Grace, I hate to be a plugger, but I've written several posts lately regarding the Spirit and had quite a conversation going at my blog. We've been discussing the interplay of the Word and the Spirit, the principles and the every day, etc. I believe we absolutely must live the every day Christian life by the Spirit, and it involves more than just reading and knowing His Word.

Good post. I hope you have time to check out the posts over at charisshalom.

Robbymac said...


You charis-missional blogger, you! :)

I'd love to see more exploration of this idea of Holy Spirit being the "m" in mDNA. Hirch develops a pretty good case for mDNA in Forgotten Ways (which I'm about half-way through). It would be fascinating and helpful in a practical way to explore how your approach dovetails with Hirch's.

grace said...

I appreciate being pointed to interesting conversations. I will take a little more time to read through the comments on your previous posts too.

Without getting out my book for reference, I would guess that what I am saying is similar to the aspect of mDNA that Alan refers to as the missional/incarnational impulse.

There is a little more detail about the thoughts I am processing in a comment I left on Brother Maynard's post. It's a little frustrating having this conversation in writing with snippets of conversation at various blogs.

I am hopeful that there will be more good discussion concerning Forgotten Ways. Jesus Creed has done some posts about it, but I was a little disappointed in the level of discussion there. And the discussion at the Forgotten Way blog usually seems to be over my head. :(

Pastor Astor said...

I believe you are on to something here. I woud also think of myself as charismissional, and my thoughts are moving along the same tracks. I think an orthodox understanding (as in eastern orthodox) of the spirit might be fruitful to persue for us charismatics. I am also very challenged by Moltmanns idea of the sprit being the spirit of the future - as the down payment (the greek word also means engagement ring) of our hope, he is based in the future eschatological reality and draws history to its conclusion. In Moltmanns view the Father, the creator works from the beginning, the Son from the middle and the spirit from the end. In that way our reality is encircled by the trinity.

Another important aspect to the spirit, I believe, is that He reveals Jesus to us. In that way the spirit is pretty darn hard to have a relationship with - He always points to Christ. On the other hand, He is the one who incarnates us, and creates in us a faith that is beyond words, beyond belief, into relationship, into reality. He is the bridge that connects the human and the divine and makes the church a REAL expression of the kingdom in the world, and not only a community of rememberence.

grace said...

pastor astor,
Interesting thoughts from Moltmann. I loved your last line that it is the spirit who makes the church a REAL expression of the kingdom. Which tying the two ideas together, the future reality of the kingdom is being brought into the present through the work of the Holy Spirit. How cool is that?!