Thursday, July 11, 2013

Where is the Holy Spirit?

I was reading another blog this morning ( here ) and the writer was describing a situation where some people began to attend a different church, and wondered where the Holy Spirit was in this church. The writer asked the questions: Was the Holy Spirit really not at that church? Or were the expectations about how one experiences the Spirit, leading these people to not see the Spirit there? (I have phrased the questions here slightly differently than he did. And I appreciated his two points in response. Well worth reading and thinking about what he wrote.)

It reminds me of attending a concert with my wife and another couple. The concert was by a Christian singer. Which meant obviously the songs would be about God's nature and work. One particular song was approaching a crescendo. And as it did so, it was moving me to focus my heart on God, his presence and his work. It was apparent that it was affecting most of the audience that way also. Now, I find that when I do this, my tendency is to become more quiet and contemplative. But the crowd around us erupted in a shout of joy and enthusiasm. The man we were with -- who was evidently built more like I was -- spoke softly, almost to himself, "No guys. This is a time for worship."

A shout of joy can't be worship?

I do not want to appear to be condemning the man or the crowd. The man had a definite idea of what worship was, and was not angry with the crowd, but seemed more disappointed that they did not read the moment like he did, and respond appropriately to the moment. I think the man responded appropriately to the Spirit moving in his heart; and I think the crowd responded appropriately to the Spirit moving in their hearts.

Maybe I am playing with semantics, but it seems to me that it depends on how we define worship and what our expectations are. It is like the other blog's questions about the Spirit. One person I know expects, that if the Spirit is present, people will receive physical healing. Another person I know expects, that if the Spirit is present, people will decide to follow Jesus. Scripture testifies to both. What if there is only one? What if there is none?

Scripture does define what should be apparent if the Spirit is present. Scripture does define what can be present in worship. We need to be true to the Scripture. We need to remember that God is very big, and can encompass all of human experience. We need to give God room to be God. And we need to give people room to respond as the Spirit speaks to them, and as they are built ... with the purpose of giving God glory.

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