I’m a bit choosy about the faith-based topics that I post here. Not because they are too deep, or that I don’t want some measure of transparency. I would rather the topics that I post here endear just as much thought, and sometimes more discussion than other topics. To that end, I’m sharing a piece from a email conversation that I have with one friend by email and f2f (a few others included on the email) about the Holy Spirit. The question was a toughie: how would you describe the Holy Spirit to a non-(Christian) believer?
We’ve got a bit of an open conversation on the Holy Spirit (HS) to finish as well. Your question to me was direct, simple: “how would I explain the HS to a person who isn’t a believer?” I will admit – and probably told you when you asked – that it wouldn’t be something that I’d talk about. At the very least, it wouldn’t be a subject that I’d bring up. If they ask, then it gets fun 😉
If asked, I would start with the characterizations of the HS first seen in Genesis during creation: (a) the Spirit of the Lord moving over the waters, (b) he formed them out of the dust of the ground and breathed [himself] into them and man became a living soul. These two characterizations of the HS firmly establish the HS as “from God,” “not apart from God,” and “intimately connected to our identity of being created in/from God.”
I would then (depending on the mode of the conversation, time/context, and ear of the listener), add the association of this in/from/connected aspect of the Holy Spirit to events within the history of the Judeao-Christian experience (Nimrod, Babel, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Saul, David, ark, temple construction, Samson, Elijah, Jeremiah, etc.) finalizing at Jesus’ demonstrated connection to the Father with the Spirit’s presence at both his baptism (Matthew 3) and the transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9).
From there, the conversation has to move to the characterization of the priesthood – and how the granting of God’s Spirit upon man wasn’t just a “calling to do a miracle” but a “responsibility to act and enable the heart of the Father around our communities/world as a literal conversant with God of his purposes (Leviticus 6-10)” Without this assumption of responsibility, or even at its abuse, the Holy Spirit becomes a point of relationship or contention for the listener (re: what position of responsibility for this world that you are to steward are you going to take).
The conversation moves then from that in/from/connected nature of us to God by the Holy Spirit to the responsibility that we are asked to take with every breath that we breathe. The example then is a paraphrasing of Jesus’ comments to his disciples (“in that day you are brought before them, do not wonder what it is that you have to say… the Father will send to you a Comforter…”). Our answer to accepting responsibility to the mandate to live, because we did not grant ourselves life, has to be founded in a connection to the Father, which is only made clear by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This connection’s key is faith in Jesus. It is in professing and living this faith in Jesus that we demonstrate that we are indeed connected to, living in, deriving our very being from the Father (context, John 15, 17).
At that, its on them, what responsibility for this life are you willing to take? Will you absolve responsibility to your connectedness to the Father, thereby taking on the consequences of being disconnected from life itself? Or, will you look to further your connection to the Father, by expressing a life born out of faith in Jesus, empowered and connected to life itself by this Holy Spirit? In a sense, leaving the Holy Spirit conversation with a similar question the judging audiences Peter and John encountered in Acts 3-4.
Yep. Probably deeper and more into the Scriptures than some would prefer. One friend on the email thread remarked at the amount of Old Testament citations I went through. I have my reasons for the response as such, and tend to bend as the context warrants.
Now that it’s public, you can feel free to poke holes and such in it. I don’t mind. Anything to help me grow, and learn a bit better how to hear all sides if topics like these.