One author described Him as, “the forgotten God.”
He had a point.
I once took a survey of a roomful of young Christians, asking their opinion on the Holy Spirit. The most interesting questions arose:
- “Do we each get one personal Holy Spirit or does He divide His time between all 2 billion Christians?”
- “What exactly IS the Holy Spirit? Is He made of fire or smoke? Also, what is a ‘tongue’ of fire?”
- “I’m afraid of the Holy Spirit.” (This was more of a statement; not a question)
- “Can we pray to the Holy Spirit? Or just Jesus?”
- “How will I know if I've “caught” the Holy Spirit?”
Many people don’t know what to do with the third member of the Godhead. Most of us really really love Jesus Christ and can relate to Him easily in prayer. God the Father is of course,…. well, He’s God, and He’s the one we pray to.
But the Holy Spirit? Well, that’s when it gets a little confusing. In some extreme cases, He’s even thought of as an “it”, not a He; a mere weapon to be wielded instead of a God to be worshipped.
In light of all this mystification, allow me to jump right in.
This may be obvious, but aside from the fact that the Holy Spirit is a completely, utterly, Holy and all-powerful member of the Triune God, He is also a deeply relational being (as in, He has personhood). Though divine, He is personal in that He is able to experience immense joy and deep grief. He’s a creative being in that He can create/design the most original works from scratch, yet, also inspire deep knowledge and wisdom in the minds of those who seek Him for it. He can provide soothing comfort and encourage the downtrodden, and at the same time, restrain the rebellious. He speaks with unfathomed insight and (it could be argued) has a sense of humor.
To the first question my young Christian friends asked: Just as there is ONE God in three persons, there is ONE Holy Spirit who indwells the heart of every follower of Jesus Christ. In other words, we don’t each get our own separate Holy Spirit. In fancy theological terms, this means the Holy Spirit is omnipresent.
Simply put, the Holy Spirit is God.
That said, do you know what is most incredible about the Holy Spirit?
It’s what Jesus said about Him a few days before He ascended back to heaven. In a conversation with His disciples in John 14:28 and 16:7, Jesus comforted them by saying it was better that He return back to heaven and the disciples have the presence of the Holy Spirit with them.
Yes. You read that right. Jesus said you and I should actually be glad that He left, and instead, sent the Holy Spirit to be with us.
I know no one asked my opinion, but I if I was given the option between a here-and-now bodily-Jesus I can hang out with and talk to, and His Holy Spirit who is always present with me, but I can’t see? I would pick here-and-now bodily-Jesus! (I am of course, kidding. I already established that to have the Holy Spirit with us is to have God the Father and God the Son also present).
Nevertheless, Jesus’ statement is very telling. You know what it tells me?
It tells me that the ministry of the Holy Spirit, in my life, in the church, and in the world, is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE and is in fact, the "secret sauce" to a spiritual awakening/revival in this end-times generation.
It tells me that you and I (as followers of Jesus Christ) desperately need the indwelling presence of Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing so we might see God do things in us and through us that we might ordinarily never experience. It also means that even after the Holy Spirit has taken up FULL residence in our hearts at the moment of conversion, we still need to be continually filled with Him.
Listen, regardless of where you fall on your doctrinal/denominational beliefs about the “filling" or "baptism" of/in/with the Holy Spirit, here’s one thing I think we can all agree on: There needs to be “less of us” and “MORE OF HIM” in our thought life and daily kingdom activity.
For most of us, the issue isn’t that we need more of the Holy Spirit’s power, rather, the issue is that the Holy Spirit would have us submit more of ourselves to His leading and direction. Daily! Our main goal as followers of Jesus Christ is to cry out to God that He would pour out His Spirit on us so our hearts would be filled with such overflowing joy and boldness that we would unashamedly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost world around us!
By the way, are you aware that the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit is (and has always been) to lift up and bring glory to Jesus Christ? This means that even in those moments when you experience a “filling” or “baptism” of the Holy Spirit where you feel empowered to do more than you would ordinarily be able to do, even then, the end goal is for your experience to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ!
In the last 15 months, I have very intentionally sought in prayer and fasting a greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit's presence and power in my life. In recent months, however, that journey has led me to some profound conclusions. Whereas I had occupied my time seeking what I hoped would be my own "burning bush" experience, God showed me that He was more delighted in the simplicity of my coming to Him daily as a friend.
I wanted a supernatural experiential moment.
God wanted to have an ongoing friendship.
Though I'm still seeking in prayer a deeper knowledge of God like Paul prayed, I have come to realize that profound peace and joy comes from simply listening, communing, and walking with His presence daily. As an added bonus, this daily journey with Him has also given me a greater sense of clarity in my calling and purpose. (It's almost as if I were meeting with a friend for lunch each day at Starbucks to talk about life).
I humorously titled this blog post, “Catching the Holy Spirit”, but as you’ve come to see, He is not an impersonal force “out there” playing hide and seek with us. The Spirit of God is deeply eager to fill our hearts with God’s heart, God's passion, God's power, and God's joy! The scriptures themselves say, “For the eyes of the LORD [His Spirit] move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we’ve already been “found” in Christ. God the Holy Spirit already dwells in us. We have EVERYTHING we need through Him who resides in our heart. Perhaps we need to stop trying so hard to “catch” Him.
Perhaps we just simply need to yield our will to His and let Him have MORE of us.
Who knows? God may graciously allow us to see the spiritual awakening and revival other generations have experienced, in our day!