The Friendly Ghost and You: An Open Discussion Concerning the Holy Spirit
Slowfo: What if someone told you that there were 2.1 billion people in the world who had the literal ghost of Elvis Presley embedded in their body? Do you think you'd notice? And if you would notice, would it be obvious? Would they dance or sing better than most? Would they say "Thankyouverymuch" as all one word? Would they have a strong attraction to both drugs and doughnuts?
My point is that it doesn't seem to me that people really notice very much that the actual Spirit of the living God of the universe is embedded in the bodies of 2.1 billion Christians around the world. Don't you think Jesus-followers should stand-out a little more? Shouldn't there be a more obvious distinction between someone who has God's Spirit leading them and someone who doesn't? Or does the Holy Ghost really just have a more laid back personality than the Father and Son? Or is this where the more charismatic influence comes into play? I have few answers but many questions on this.
Gentry: Scott, I have more questions than answers in this arena as well. The fact that we grew up in a church tradition that was terrified of the Pentecostal/Charismatic traditions doesn’t help matters much. For my part, I can’t lay all of the blame for my ignorance at the feet of either our forbears or hucksters such as Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar. Since I worship with a number of Pentecostals I should have more of a perspective.
Anyway…I do think that the Holy Spirit should play a more significant role in the life of the Christian community and the individual believer. However, I suspect that far too often Christians, such as myself, have limited the influence of the Holy Spirit by seeking His presence in ecstatic experiences rather than in the midst of service. I know that for a number of years I expected to find the Holy Spirit in the midst of a rousing rendition of Better Is One Day during the True Devotions service at Soybean Bible. Where I didn’t expect to connect with him was in the midst of cleaning a toilet at L’Arche or pounding the pavement between employers whom I was hoping would give my clients an opportunity to work. I’ll give you three guesses where the Holy Spirit seemed to show up…
In the last year or so, I’ve felt the power and presence of the Holy Spirit at work when I have asked him to empower and guide me as I served the interests of others. More and more, I’m beginning to suspect that God is not as interested in worship wherein he is the sole object so much as he is interested in a form of worship in which he can interact and instrumentally empower us as we serve others. Don’t get me wrong, I still think there are good reasons to intentionally honor and praise God for His blessings. However, I think that our ecstatic experiences of God are more likely to occur in the midst of our attempts to actually be a blessing to the world. Maybe God is less interested in us swaying with our hands outstretched, singing and envisioning Him on the throne than he is interested in meeting us along the way as we pursue - with his absolutely essential help! - the mission of His Kingdom in this world.
I don’t have the time to root all of this in scripture at the moment, but I think that this connection between ecstatic experience/empowering connection with the Holy Spirit and mission is evident in the Acts narratives (see chapter 2, 6 and 9).
One more thing: if we’re to liken the Holy Spirit to Elvis, I suspect that his theme song is A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action.