Encouragement

“Now I am going to Him who sent me, yet none of you asks me,  ‘Where are you going?’  Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.  But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  John 16:5-7.

Now just a doggone minute!  How’s it for our good that Jesus goes away and sends the Holy Spirit?  Doesn’t that seem kind of like telling a kid who is being left in daycare that it’s for his or her own good that they get to hang with people being paid to babysit them?

Well, let’s ask ourselves:  what is good for us?  I don’t know how to answer that question except by Scripture (okay, I could answer it outside of the Bible, but I don’t think the answers we find there would do us any good since they are tumultuous and confusing) but even then the answers we find might not make sense to us.

Here’s what I know:  Jesus going away allows the Holy Spirit to do His work; without Jesus leaving, the Spirit wouldn’t have been able to come work in the world.  Somehow, the Spirit’s work is tied to Jesus leaving, but more than that, I believe, because Jesus’ departure signified He’d accomplished the goal.

Another thought:  If Jesus had to leave for the Holy Spirit to be in the world, couldn’t that mean that only part of God’s presence can be in the world at a time?  If while Jesus remained on earth, the Holy Spirit had to stand back from taking an active role in human life, then we must conclude the Godhead might have had rules for operating in the world once sin entered.

How did Jesus word it?  “It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” In other words, though the Spirit was in the world, His work wasn’t needed while Jesus was in the world because the Master is the personification of the message He taught.  It’s also hard to deny the power, character and work of Jesus while He’s standing in front of us.  What I mean is, if following Him is by faith, then having Him here to answer every question trumps what it takes to follow Him.  Though we know for a certainty it was the Spirit who guided Him into the desert when He was tempted and fasted for 40 days.  So the Spirit did have a role to play in human history, just a more limited one.  Does that make sense?

It is for our good because it takes faith for us to follow without being able to see.  It takes a certain decisive clarity to jump on His magic bus without knowing the ending for sure.  We can’t guarantee, in human terms, what will happen at the end of the ride, so it makes no sense by earthly reasoning.  In fact, Paul bluntly says it looks like foolishness to those who seek wisdom in the world.

Ignorance is not bliss, folks.  It might seem that way but children are ignorant of the dark yet they are scared of it.  They only remain unafraid while their minds remain unaware of things to fear; once they know fear of the known or unknown they will begin to fear the dark.  So it is with us.

Jesus’ intended for the disciples to be encouraged by His words, instead they were filled with grief and heartbroken because He said He was going away.  Their perspective was so limited by bias they couldn’t see any light in His words.  Their ignorance and blindness due to their bias just left them confused and sad.  Yet if they had understood at the time, we wouldn’t have this discussion written down nor would we get to receive the encouragement from their experience.  Knowing they failed to understand should encourage us with our inability to get it.

We grasp very little of the eternal perspective.  But then, we are not required to comprehend the whole of it for it would blow our minds.  What we need to grasp, though, is that God’s work in us is about changing the heart from darkness to light, despair to hope, and a sense of joy from the most tragic circumstances imaginable.  The Spirit’s work in us is to produce fruit supernaturally so no man or woman can boast.  It isn’t our study that changes us nor our devotion to God, those are just the methods of opening us up.  The real source of change is the presence of God through the Holy Spirit filling our being with light and cleansing us from all unrighteousness through the blood of the Son.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

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4 Responses to “Encouragement”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Have you read Forgotten God by Francis Chan? It’s dealing with the neglect of the Holy Spirit in today’s church and raises great questions.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    No, I’ve never read it but I know the sentiment has been expressed by many preachers. I think the over emphasis in some churches on the Holy Spirit—many times the exclusion of Jesus or just simply sidelining Him—turns other bodies of believers off.

    I like the balanced approach and don’t want us to get too crazy about The Holy Spirit, rather I would know Him as He is. It’s a touchy balance to strike.

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