Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Revisiting Spirituality (Part 1): God the Spirit and Spirituality

Introduction - God the Spirit, and Spirituality

The topic of spirituality has always been a foreign one for me at the least. Foreign, not only because I don't quite fully understand what spirituality is, but also, it isn't something we read in the newspaper or talk comfortably about on a general basis. But it is my interest to express my relationship with the spirit alongside the bible in order to deliver one approach to spirituality, and how it is applicable even in public. For the sake of irony (see next heading), I don't want people to misinterpret this blog as a direct finger point 'do this' because it's not at all. As it is just a yarn; one expression of one interpretation.

Spirituality and it's Hundred Interpretations

Spirituality is an important sphere in our lives, moreover, it is a space where we connect with God in particular ways. But sadly, spirituality is also an ambiguous concept. It is ambiguous because the bible says one thing, but people read three things, and thereafter the world has advertised a hundred things. Furthermore, the chemistry of its ambiguous nature is rather complex, but to put it simply it transpires out of these subsequent consequences: many people absorb many experiences, and therefore we tend to interpret many things. Spirituality from the current post-modern perspective, may be referred to, and limited only to as a concept. This limitation is a result of our inter-subjective web, simply: different people seeing various different things and ultimately; interpreting a particular response.

 The consequences of the ambiguous post-modern spirituality are the apparent unnecessary rituals we come across today. This has contributed to the "weird" and "spooky" vibe that people nowadays interpret when they come across 'spirituality'. For the sake of going off topic, all arguments aside: the bible is an absolute truth and so; how it describes spirituality should be seen as the real and true spirituality. But there are many ridiculous spiritual activities in practice, and all but one is true. Therefore, it is rare to see spirituality actually produce anything significant, good, or anything at all. It is then understandable; why the general (or at least western) perspective of  being spiritual is a quality of being insane or at least a little bit crazy. Surely if A, B, and C do an array of weird and ridiculous things, and all claim to act under a 'spiritual' determination, spirituality and everything to do with it must and only be a ridiculous in vain concept for nutters... By no means, this is a complete misinterpretation of what the bible says spirituality is, and furthermore, what spirituality should be interpreted as and look like.

What Christians (and this includes me) may face because of this, is a thick cloud of disillusionment. It is similar to this modern misunderstanding; when people understand Christianity as religiosity. For example, I often have people asking on the lines of 'Are you religious?' and my response would immediately be on the lines of 'I believe in [or follow] Jesus, but I am not religious.' This response often has people interested because they don't understand the difference, moreover it drops a 'fruitful' seed in their curiosity that opens future conversations. This atmosphere of the world loves to distract our perception from what the bible says spirituality is, and its confusion scatters our faith to what other things say.  Most importantly, this distraction has made it difficult for us to understand and develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit.


One thing that I continue to struggle with is grasping who the Holy Spirit is; as person of God. Yes, who, not what. I must admit, I still may accidentally refer to him as an it. For some reason it can be easy for me to limit the Spirit to God's Loreal product; in which we may think of the Spirit as a buzz that makes us feel "worth it".

Whenever I come back from intense experience of the Holy Spirit, I find it easy to limit what the Spirit can do when and where. This is a natural response, and it was particularly easy for me to fall into its trap in years surrounding when I first was baptized and met the Spirit.

I'd like to also note that being baptized in the spirit is different to knowing the spirit.

Back in my early years, I only understood the Spirit as an experience, rather than someone; whom is always with me. I don't fully understand the Spirit, and I probably will only understand him as a child understands little of the world they live in. This is the beauty of the Holy Spirit: not only he is someone we can experience things with that transcends any intimacy; but he is a person, therefore he is a someone we can develop and live alongside in relationship.

God, the Holy Spirit

I do want to avoid the confusion the Trinity tends to give to people, but God is three persons. To put it simply, a friend put him into perspective in the terms of water:

Water can be a gas (steam),
Liquid (water)
Or solid (ice).

But imagine water is in its forms all at the same time, God is (and in no particular order):

God the Father;
God the Son (Jesus);
God the Holy Spirit.

It's not the best explanation, but anyway... God plays three different roles as those persons, all are equal and work in perfect harmony (see Genesis 1).

Galatians 5 describes the fruits, the attributes of the spirit as love, joy, peace, etc (see image above). One may distinguish these fruits as the character of Jesus, in which is portrayed throughout the gospels. If you understand these fruits as 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away', it highlights a relationship between the three persons of God. Instead of limiting the Spirit to annual experiences in Christian camps, we should recognize how we can have a day-to-day relationship with him. Yes, you may not feel that 'buzz' everyday you felt that one or two times coming back from your first christian camps, but the Spirit may want to gives other things.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 
1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

1 Cor. 12 is a great chapter and you may want to read all of it! But how about when you are on the bus, before you get out of bed, in the show even; ask the spirit to develop even just one of those fruits. The Spirit is someone who helps us be like Jesus, he equips us with the things we need to live in this world. Ken Shelley, King's Church Christchurch pastor said "don't waste your wilderness." How about you use your wilderness as a starting point; to start seeing the Spirit as someone who can help you, and comfort you. God to us is a spontaneous God (see 'Our Worries' blog post), but he isn't; his will is ultimate and we can depend on him that he has our best destiny planned. Overwhelmed with work or assignments? Ask the Spirit for peace. Need to feel that little happier? Ask the Spirit for love and joy. Don't expect a quick fix; continually ask for it, fight for it! God wants us to live for him, but we live in a world that doesn't want God or his ideals. This relationship we have with God is one like any other in this aspect: it develops. It is this relationship that is given to us out of the grace of the father, and it lasts forever.

(You only live twice, but the second time you live forever) 

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