I made the Holy S***** a bad word.
When I talk to fellow Christians I don’t often find myself using S***** in conjunction with Holy. I have no problems talking about God or Jesus but the Holy Sp****, these are words that, when put together, are not part of my vocabulary. I do not deny that God has power. I believe the stories recorded in the Gospels that document the miracles performed by Jesus. Still, when it comes to things that happen right now I am more likely to attribute them to God or Jesus not a move or power initiated by the Holy Spi***. I treat these word, like they are bad words when used together.
It’s easier to ignore what you can’t defend.
I find my journey to discover what I have been missing in my life as a follower of Christ has led me to a simple and yet deeply disappointing conclusion; much of my avoidance of things attributed to the Holy Spir** comes from my inability to defend the actions of those who have made the Holy Spiri* a bad word. The more I dig the more I see that the lies and the truth are so close that mounting any defense of signs and wonders, of the miraculous and the powerful is almost impossible. What makes it worse is that keeping my mouth closed when I am tempted to try to defend is not the limit of my reaction to the indefensible. I have gone from not being sure, to not believing or at least rarely believing that the Spirit of God is at work in the same ways He did throughout the New Testament.
It’s easier to embrace the predictable.
So much of my doctrine is rooted in logic. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if my logic wasn’t confined to the limits of my imperfection and the deep desire to be in control or at least feel prepared for what happens next. We embrace human understanding based on human knowledge because it is easier to predict the way God will work. Imagine yourself in the upper room on Pentecost. You had heard the promises of Jesus about the Holy Spirit and you are following Jesus’ command to wait until you are clothed with power from on high. What would you expect to happen? What would your best guess be, based on what you had heard? What would you predict the creator of the universe would do to fulfill His promised gift? I am pretty sure the rushing wind, tongues of fire and miraculous preaching of the gospel in other languages would not be what you imagined nor would they be comfortable or logical.
Fast forward two thousand years and apply comfortable logic and the desire to feel in control. Much of our doctrine is limited to our imperfection and the deep desire to be in control or at least feel prepared for what happens next. Because of this we discount a move of the Holy Spirit that is not predictable and may I add tame.
It’s easier to live what we understand.
I have to admit that I am much more comfortable in situations that I understand. I don’t have to be able to fully comprehend or explain what is going on but I need to know that someone else can. I feel much safer knowing that the world I am experiencing has a structure and limits that are within the everyday human experience. Once this migrates into my faith I am likely to create two categories so that I can justify my faith in the accuracy of the Bible while still having a structure and limits that make me feel safe.
I understand that the Bible is full of God reaching down and disrupting the everyday norms for human existence. He spoke and things were created. He willed and the seas parted. His Spirit acted and a virgin became pregnant. He, in human form, walked on water. He came back to life. His Spirit caused an uneducated fisherman to speak with such effect that 3000 people became followers… This is just a small overview of the signs and wonders that cannot be explained or understood but that was then and this is now. I don’t need to understand that because I don’t live it. What I live now, what I am comfortable with, is a structured existence with limitations.
I can’t defend, predict or understand but it is time I experienced.
I grew up around prosperity preaching, false prophecy, questionable faith healing and out of context Bible quotes used to defend an “I feel therefore it is God” theology. I told a Pentecostal pastor friend that I had become very uncomfortable with this part of my faith after many bad experiences with fakes and frauds who seemed to only want two things, money and popularity. What he said to me is just now fully sinking in. He said “if you find a counterfeit $100 bill does that make all other $100 bills counterfeit?”
Even though I have run into more than one counterfeit and I can’t defend their actions, even though, when it is real, I am uncomfortable because I cannot predict what will happen and I cannot fully understand it, I will no longer make the Holy Spirit a bad word or assume a potential move of the Holy Spirit to be a counterfeit.