Read: Isaiah 61; Psalm 104; 1 Thessalonians 1
One of the big questions in pneumatology and Christian history is the direction of God’s work. Where does God’s help come from? Where do we see the emanating presence of God’s activity? Where do we go to discover God?
In Exodus, we see God giving the Law to Moses, filling Moses with authority and wisdom, passing this on to Joshua. Later, judges are anointed to provide wisdom when needed, though we find the people often wandered astray.
The king, not God’s ideal, becomes a center of focus and God’s ordaining, though likewise without consistent faithfulness.
There is the Temple, which God filled with his presence. The ark of the covenant become a unifying symbol of God’s favor.
Even still, where did God’s help really come from? From the centers of power and influence?
Sometimes, not always. Centers of power and control are where we seek validation and authority and influence. We are, we might even say, addicted to leadership, if not the pursuit of it then at least the validation by it.
But God is not so limited. There is the gift of leadership, but it is God’s gift. And when leaders abuse God’s mission, calling, values, dismissing his love and care for all people, then leaders find themselves countering God’s grace. Which is not a healthy place to be.
When their privilege is put before God’s mission, then the Spirit is grieved. But doesn’t stop working for the sake of God’s people.
Where does our help come from? How we answer that says a great deal about our understanding of God and especially our understanding of the Spirit.
God is not limited to the powers of this world because God is not limited to the systems of this world. Jesus did not concede to the institutional leaders, the religious leaders, the political leaders, or the zealots in adapting his mission to meet their demands and expectations, to meet their assumptions about how peace and hope are found.
God guides in a different way, and this way is a way from below, where the Spirit works to enliven people where they are at and to find an identity that transcends that which the world provides. We are more than conquerors because the kingdom we participate in is everlasting and it is life-giving.
This is a message of hope and life and calling, pushing us to see past the immediate and to invest in God’s vision of this world and each other.
Are you discouraged? God’s Spirit is with you, leading you and not abandoning you. Are you weak? God’s power can work even in death, where there is by definition no hope.
The resurrection means that God is not limited by what we see or hear or assume. This power of new life always among us gives us hope in even the darkest places, to live in a new way, caught up in neither anger nor despair.
In this hope we become bearers of light to others, resisting that which claims death, pushing against that which seeks to minimize or anonymize each person.
We are called by name and we can live in a new way in the midst of our present circumstances, knowing the Spirit who works from below and within, a fractal transformation that envelops the world in new life. This is not fully realized but it is in play, and we can choose which way we live for.
Where do you see the Spirit working in your life today? Where is the Spirit working in your community? What can you do to participate in this more fully?
How can you spend time to cultivate this life? Let us live in the life of the Spirit who is with life and invites life to be fully awakened.
Let us enter fully into our present so that we begin to see that God doesn’t need the right election results or any other indications of power to do a magnificent work.
Let us be thankful that the Spirit works and works even among, especially among, those the world abandons or dismisses. Let us be thankful because most of us are in this situation and God still, oddly enough, calls us to join in this amazing mission.
Where does our help come from? Where are you looking for help on this day?
Each week in my class on the Holy Spirit, I add a more pastoral reflection to the usual theological content. This was the one for the current week 3.