My Trash Barrel Overflows

“But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.”
(Micah 3:8)

I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit is frequently spoken about in most all Christian churches, yet His nature and personhood is often ignored. The explanation of the nature and activity of the Holy Spirit in Article 3 of the Mennonite Confession of Faith is very refreshing. There was a time when I was happy to think of God as a rarified being of some type that was just beyond the cloudy edge of my imagination. I thought that Jesus must be more physical than this, because he had some kind of a physical body. The Holy Spirit on the other hand was even more ethereal than God, so much so that he was something like the twinkling of a falling star on a dark evening – there for a few second, then gone again.

What a shock it was when I heard a pastor describe the Holy Spirit as “A Person” – the third person of the trinity. “It is not a person” I inwardly reacted! – Its a… Well it’s a something or other, but a person, “I don’t think so.”

I was a bit of a hard nut to crack. I knew I wanted more of God in my life, but I didn’t have a clue of how personal God could become. The Holy Spirit is a person! His nature is clearly described in Article 3. We can have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is not an optional part of the Christian life, but a central part of it. It is through an active relationship with the Holy Spirit that a person is led into conformity with Jesus. I don’t think a person can be much of a Christian with out an active relationship with the Holy Spirit. At least that was true for me.

It is very interesting to me that every Church I have visit in recent years seems to always have a few members whose lives are shaped, guided, and made whole through a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the denominational doctrine and their practices, the Holy Spirit is their companion. It is a bit of a mystery, but spirit filled people find their way (with God’s help) into fellowship with one another. I know Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, Vineyard members, and others who all have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the denomination, this relationship has the qualities described in Article 3 of the Mennonite Confession of Faith. It is always a joy to meet another brother or sister whose life is being led by the Holy Spirit. This joy is strangely absent when I meet people who say they are Christians, yet live and act like the world, and don’t know the Holy Spirit.

I am not going to puff myself up or get legalistic about who is or is not a true Christian, because this judgment belongs to God. I can, however, encourage every follower of Jesus to examine his or her relationship with the Holy Spirit. What does it look like? Is this relationship bearing fruit? Do you want a closer relationship with God? Personally, I am far from being a whole and complete Christian. You can be sure that the Holy Spirit has a lot more to do with me. He no longer sends a dump truck to collect my sins; however, He continues to convict me and to provide a sturdy trash barrel to collect the refuse of my deceived life.

During the dump truck phase of my walk into Christianity, I prayed that the Holy Spirit would crush the crud out of my life. I prayed to be delivered from the lies and deceit filled thoughts that held sway in my life. Believe me, He responded without hesitation, because my life was a dirty mess. Such an invitation will never be refused. If you ask God to reveal your sin, He most certainly will. If you ask Him to show you the places in your life where you are worldly and displeasing God, He will respond immediately. If you ask Him to help you understand how your attitudes have become obstacles to following God’s will, He will paint a clear picture for you to see. God is not slow to act; we are slow to listen.

Father God and Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing to send us the wise counselor – the comforter – the Holy Spirit. You clearly knew that we needed the strength and persistence of the Holy Spirit in our lives if we were to follow your will. I pray for better ears to hear, better eyes to see, and a completely open mind, so that I will always recognize the beloved Holy Spirit of God and respond in humility. Amen.

The Holy Spirit interprets the news

A scripture about the Holy Spirit:

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin. (Micah 3:8)

This is an unfamiliar scripture to me. In the context of its chapter, Micah is contrasting what God says about people who falsely speak for God, for example, proclaiming peace for profit or during days of ease:

Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,
who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,
but declare war against him
who puts nothing into their mouths.

To these, God remains silent and dark:

Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without divination.
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;
the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;
they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.

But Micah, spirit-filled, speaks the message from God that God intends to give, even when that news is bad:

But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.

This passage is quoted in the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective as a proof-text for Holy Spirit’s work in the prophets (and so it is). But its also a challenge to us to try to be present to the mind of God with respect to what is happening around us. We are not to simply sample the news and say things are going well or badly; God sees behind the news, and the Spirit may offer deeper insight and light. This is true for news about the world, about our friends and loved ones, about what is happening to us personally.