31 August 2017John 16:12-15
“All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (v. 15)
Psalm: Psalm 71:1-14
In recent years, some thinkers in the Christian 'West' (as opposed to the 'Eastern' or Orthodox Christian world) have begun to ask whether Western Christianity has a less than fully-developed theology of the Holy Spirit. This may in part be due to a new engagement with 'Eastern' Christian thinking and spirituality. Part of this thinking has been to ask whether there is a need to balance some of the ways we understand the Spirit's activity as associated with the extraordinary and the episodic with a way of thinking about the presence and work of the Spirit belonging in the ordinary and everyday.
The Spirit is referred to infrequently in the Old Testament, as a way of pointing to the presence and the power of God (eg Exodus 36 where it is seen as inspiring the artist in her work). In the New Testament, in this passage as elsewhere, the Spirit is spoken of in connection with Jesus. For example Galatians 4:6 refers to God sending the "Spirit of his Son into our hearts"; and here in John 16 the Spirit of truth will come from the Father to show us the truth about Jesus.
Another way of putting this might be to say that what the Spirit does and shapes in the world is Jesus-like. ie that God at work in the world as Spirit generates Christ-shaped lives and actions. And if the Church is Spirit-filled, then it will be pointing, in its life and actions, to the possibility of Christ-shaped life.
'Growing towards Christlikeness' might simply be another name for the Christian life, in the church and for individual believers: the work of allowing more and more of ourselves to be exposed to God's transforming grace in our daily choices and interactions and reflections from minute to minute. And this can involve patience and trust. It can also mean regularly wrestling with impatience and disappointment that we don't seem to be 'getting anywhere'. But likewise, it can offer transfiguring glimpses of everyday living as 'holy ground': the theatre of God's presence and the place where God is at work for the redeeming of all things.
- What has helped you in your understanding of God the Holy Spirit?
- To what extent is 'growing towards Christlikeness' a useful way of thinking about the Christian life? How would you characterise 'Christlikeness'?
Bible notes author