beliefs 4 – the spirit…

Let’s finish off the trinity…turning our focus onto the Spirit…

For quite a while now I’ve thought of myself as part of the tribe known as ‘charismatics’.  That label means a whole load of things to a whole load of people, but to me its most simple definition is that we believe that the Holy Spirit is as active today as its ever been.    We believe that the Spirit is at work, and we get to join in with it as it brings about the kingdom of God here and now.  We believe that the Spirit can and does bring healing, transformation and hope into our world.

The thing is, I’d also describe myself as a relatively cynical charismatic.  Let me unpack that.  I believe that the Spirit is real, is at work and that incredible things can happen.  I’ve seen stuff.  I’ve heard stories.  But I’m also aware that the Spirit doesn’t always do what we want it to do.  Healing doesn’t always come.  Other stuff doesn’t happen.

So what do we do? Do we give up, or do we keep going…keep praying, expectant that the Spirit will do our bidding eventually if we keep at it?

I’m not sure.

One of the things I’ve thought a lot about recently is the difference between being expectant and living with a sense of expectancy.  Being expectant has a sense of us somehow deserving whatever the Spirit has for us.  That our prayers demand to be answered because they’re asking for exactly what should happen.  From our perspective of course.  Living with a sense of expectancy turns that around, and says something along the lines of ‘I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I want to be part of it’.  Maybe that’s me making more of two very similar words which actually mean exactly the same thing…but it’s helped me to get my head around this stuff.

What I do believe is that often we ask the Spirit to do something that we should be doing ourselves.  Something like being the answer to our own prayers, if you know what I mean.  I believe passionately that God works through us and that too often we ignore that prompting and instead try to shrug it off, wrapped up in some holy-speak about letting the Spirit do it.  There are many things that only God can do, but there are also many things that he calls and commands us to do too.

I believe that the Spirit is the creative dynamic of the trinity, the movement, the flow that rushes through the whole of the universe and invites us to join the dance.  I believe, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that we’re called to be co-re-creators with the Spirit…looking for where it’s at work and joining in.  Following its lead, moving forward.

I believe that the Spirit is both within and without – working inside of us to transform us, at times despite ourselves, and without us, at work in the world.

I believe that the Spirit is at work in every single life.  That’s everyone.  Ever.  Those close, those far.  It’ll look different in every case, but I think it might look something like this: awakening our original design, our God DNA as it were.  Some will embrace this, some will do everything they can to ignore it.  Others will not even realise that this is what is happening without someone pointing it out to them.

But then I believe in a generous, welcoming God who will surprise us when it comes to the last days.

So, there we are.  I’m a cynical-charismatic…if such a thing exists…but then, I believe in a God far beyond what I can write about…but this is an attempt to explain a little of what’s going on in my head and heart.

Again, a bit of a synopsis…forgive me if it doesn’t make much sense…

One final thought…how do you describe the trinity?  I don’t honestly know.  The most beautiful descriptions I’ve heard are all about the modelling of community in the Godhead, or the perpetual dance of love that’s going on at the heart of everything we believe.  I’m not sure if there’s a hierarchy.  I’m not sure how to describe the relationships between the constituent members.   Put simply, it’s complicated.  We’re monotheistic, and yet believe in three-in-one.  Man, we complicate things.  But then, complicated can be beautiful, as can simple.

Any clues?


8 thoughts on “beliefs 4 – the spirit…

  1. Thanks for these posts, they’re great. Helping to tease out some of the tangles in my own head at the moment.
    The more I reflect on this stuff I keep coming back to community, the sense of being carried through hard times by those who love us and share our pain. Watching the ‘living with the amish’ on C4 and being amazed by the simplicity of their faith and how interwoven they are with their community and environment. I know we can’t all live like that – or maybe we can – but taking some of that deep concern for one another into our daily lives is something that I’m thinking a lot on. The look of amazement on the face of the public school educated British teenager when his new mennonite friend thinks hard on the question ‘how many bad days do you have a year’ and replies ‘ten or so … I guess’ is also something to savour as he reflects that he probably has two or three a week. And we all know how that feels!
    So I’m rambling a lot, but thanks for your thoughts and I look forward to carrying on the conversation as St Brian Mclaren would say …

    1. Hey Simon,

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your thoughts. I’m with you, brother. It’s all about community, about having a safe space in which to grow and flourish, or to weep and wail, or to simply be for a little while. Real community has space for doubt, space for silence, for dialogue, for encounter with the divine and with each other. That’s what I’m interested in. Maybe another post brewing?

      Grace and peace, my friend.

  2. Thanks Martin. I especially like this idea…

    ‘I believe that the Spirit is at work in every single life. That’s everyone. Ever. Those close, those far. It’ll look different in every case, but I think it might look something like this: awakening our original design, our God DNA as it were. Some will embrace this, some will do everything they can to ignore it. Others will not even realise that this is what is happening without someone pointing it out to them’.

    Surely the Spirit is ‘He’, personal, not ‘it’ though?

    ANDY P(Oultney) Happy Christmas

    1. Thanks, Andy.

      I was trying to be gender neutral in my description…just as an experiment really. It felt quite odd not writing ‘he’!

      I think sometimes the gender thing creates a problem for some, so trying to remove that for this series.

      Hope all is well with you, brother.

      1. All is well indeed, thanks! Interestingly, as you probably know from The Shack, there the Holy Spirit is portrayed as female. I’m not using that as a good example of theological truth (at all) but it concurs with some Eastern traditions who would not consider thinking or speaking of the HS in anything other than the feminine! Food for thought indeed.

        Anyway, I’m packing up at the office, getting a hair cut, then driving home for Christmas – Q singing…Have a good un matey, be blessed.


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