If there is one person of the Trinity who gets neglected in the Church, it would have to be the Holy Spirit. We pray to God our Father in the name of Jesus Christ. We study the life of Jesus and use the term ‘God’ as shorthand to refer to God the Father. But when do we talk about God the Holy Spirit? We should talk about (and to and with!) the Holy Spirit all the time. It is in and through the person of the Holy Spirit that God is present with us. Many of us may remember being taught that we needed to accept Jesus into our hearts. But actually, this isn’t what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that it is the Holy Spirit who inhabits us (1 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:11). Jesus is with us always through the Holy Spirit.
For too long in the Church, we have treated the Holy Spirit like a spooky version of God that we don’t want to talk about too much for fear that they might turn up. But the Bible teaches us something very different about the Holy Spirit. The Bible uses terms like ‘comforter’ and ‘helper’ and ‘counselor’ to describe the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that after he ascends to heaven, he will send us the Holy Spirit to comfort us in his absence and guide a direct us just as he did with his disciples. Jesus says, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit comes to help us live as a Christian, teaching and guiding us just as Jesus did with the disciples.
But the Spirit also does more than that. The Holy Spirit gives God’s power to us. The Bible uses imagery like a violent, rushing wind and a blazing fire to describe the Holy Spirit. We see both of these images combined on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–3). At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled the disciples and gave them power to carry the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Some people refer to Pentecost as the birth of the Church. I would compare it to the Big Bang. The Church explodes onto the earth. I long to see the Church explode in our day, to see many come to saving faith in Jesus. But we must remember what the Church was doing when God sent the Holy Spirit to them. Acts 1:14 says, “All [the discipes] with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers and sisters.” They gathered together to pray for the Holy Spirit to come. As we prepare to celebrate Pentecost next Sunday, I encourage you to pray the most ancient prayer of the Church: “Come, Holy Spirit.”
In the Spirit,