the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Most people spend long hours in conversation with their intended spouse during courtship. They discuss issues of mutual interest and learn to enjoy the activities that their intended finds interesting. The more time they spend together the easier it is to predict how the other will think on any subject. After 28 years, my wife and I know each other completely. As it is with many couples we can finish one another’s thoughts because they are ours as well. Moreover, after a stressful day “at the office” I find that her presence alone is enough to calm me even when no words are spoken.
It is enjoyable for us to develop a relationship with someone we love. In time we cannot imagine living apart from our best friend and even the thought of trying to function without them is disconcerting. It is a wonder to me that so many Christians understand a vital relationship with another human being but they do not seek to cultivate a like relationship with the Holy Spirit.
If we hope to rely upon the Spirit in escaping temptation we must first have a relationship with the person of the Holy Spirit. I believe the greatest obstacle to developing a relationship with the Spirit is a misunderstanding of who he is. Indeed, many Christians do not view the Holy Spirit as a “he” but as an “it.” They think of the Spirit as an abstract power which they might tap into from time to time but they do not recognize the Holy Spirit as a true person.
Most Christians would deny that they view the Holy Spirit this way but their lifestyle gives them away. The Spirit longs to enable us in the task of escaping temptation but he is a gentleman and will not force us to rely upon him. If we truly want to know the Holy Spirit we need to spend time with him. Just as we learned to love our spouse by spending hours in conversation and other activities, we develop a relationship with the Spirit by spending time in conversation with him, learning what interests him and joining him in the work of the kingdom.
Perhaps you object to conversation with the Holy Spirit on the grounds that we are supposed to pray to “our Father in heaven.” This is true; nevertheless we must not think that prayer is designed to be addressed to a single person in the Trinity in isolation. Remember, God is of one essence. Therefore, to pray to God is to pray to the Trinity. Thus, our first step in getting to know the person of the Holy Spirit is to spend much time in prayer.
Prayer should not be limited to a certain time of day but must be an ongoing activity (1 Thessalonians 5:17). For instance, when someone comes to mind we should pray for them. We should ask the Lord to have his hand upon them and to give them wisdom. When we are faced with a decision we turn to God in prayer and plead for his guidance. When temptation comes we lift our eyes to the Lord and pray for his mind to be manifest in our life. During those times of the day when there is “nothing to talk about” we need to think on the things that are important to the Holy Spirit, asking him to take of what is from Jesus and declare it to us (John 16:14). This is why it is critical to know the Word of God; it gives us something to talk to the Spirit about. In this way the Holy Spirit takes the raw material of the Word and shapes us into the image of Jesus.
More next week.