The Rector's Blog
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May 21, 2015, 5:13 PM

Is it the Holy Spirit?


OK, the question of the day is this:  How do we know it’s the Holy Spirit?
In 1st John, we skipped a paragraph in our Sunday readings where John said, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”

If you’ve heard my sermons (or read them online) or been part of the Bible Study over the last few weeks, you know that John has a particular problem:  some of the members of the community of which he is a part have left, because they don’t accept that Jesus came “in the flesh,” that is, they thought that he wasn’t really a human being like us, but more an appearance or a “seeming.”

John believed most strongly that unless Jesus was human, unless Jesus really suffered as we do, unless Jesus actually and really died, the whole incarnation project was a fraud, and we are not saved.

For John, the crucial test for the spirit, as for believers, was their answer to the question, “Who was Jesus?” 

But John lived in a time when spirits were a dime a dozen, as it were.  Jesus cast out evil spirits, Paul wrote about the Spirit of Christ entering our bodies, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples in John’s Gospel, and in the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit filled the disciples with the ability to speak in many languages, which certainly must have aided the evangelism effort of the time.

But in our time?  It’s hard to discern spirits, because we lean on psychology instead. 

So, perhaps our question should be: how do we know if we are getting faith right?

Perhaps for us, it is easier to focus on what else Jesus was besides human and divine, to focus on how this particular unique individual, who was both God and human, lived his life, and to ask ourselves if we do the same.

This particular Jesus, whom we meet in the Gospels, whom Paul met on the road to Damascus, who washed the disciples feet, who corrected the Pharisees and gave his life in an ultimate act of service to humanity…this man reveals God.

How might we do that?

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