|Word and Spirit|
|Written by Toby Sumpter|
|Thursday, 26 November 2009 08:39|
The Father comes to us by the Word and the Spirit.
But the Word without the Spirit is not enough. Our salvation would not be effectual without Pentecost. The death and resurrection of Jesus would be meaningless to us without the pouring out of the Spirit.
Same thing with preaching, counseling, evangelism, even parenting: These words would be lifeless and empty without the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit does not enliven, if the Spirit does not give light, the words tumble into the nothing.
The Spirit turns the Word into flesh, but the Spirit also turns flesh into Word.
Too often we think that if we only say the right thing, formulate the right argument, give the right answer then we will be effective, then our words will produce light and life. We think words are enough. But the Spirit hovers over the waters. The Spirit is a hurricane of joy and love and peace, the Storm that carves life out of the dirt.
This means that Christian ministry must have Spirit-glorified flesh. So how do we gin up the Spirit? Which songs must we sing, which liturgy should we follow, how do we get the Spirit to incarnate our words, the gospel words we speak to those around us? Part of the answer is that it’s impossible, and that we cannot “get” the Spirit to do anything. The Spirit blows where He wishes, and we do not know His plans or intentions. But we do have the Scriptures, and we know the ways that the Spirit tends to work. The Spirit likes weakness. The Spirit glorifies the humble. The Spirit carves life out of the dirt. One practical suggestion is that Christian ministry needs to embrace the weakness of human flesh. Pastors and elders and parents must learn to hug and kiss and cry and shout and plead. The Word has to sink down into our earth, our bodily earth, into our emotions, our passions, our bodies in order to spring up into newness of human life.
We know that we have been given the Spirit, but frequently we think that this means that we go about ministering grace in some absolutely different way. I’ll stand over here and quote Bible verses and then you’ll understand. I’ll hand you a tract, and then you’ll get it. I’ll explain why you’re being irrational, and that should clue you in. But the Spirit incarnates the Word. The Word must barrel out into the world, transfigured into a human body. The Word must be earthy or there is no Spirit. We're frequently functional Docetists, the Word only pretends to be flesh. We don't really need the Spirit; Word is enough.
I wonder how many counseling sessions have failed because we refused to hug the individual we were counseling. Or how many spouses might be won over with a real kiss? I wonder how many individuals have fallen away from the faith because we did not cry for their souls to the Father. And I mean cry. I wonder how many prayers for the lost and the unbelieving continue to go unanswered because we still get more angry over politics.
The Spirit turned the Word into flesh, but the Spirit continues to turn flesh into Word. And that means that He turns our feeble bodies, our powerless words into the words and actions of the Word Made Flesh. As the gospel penetrates our lives, our flesh and pain and tears and blood become the Word by the working of the Spirit who proceeds from the Father. And that should be reason for great hope and faith.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2009 08:52|