The separation of Jesus from his creation, and the human race from Jesus is disastrous. This dualism leaves us assuming that our human existence is merely human, with, at best, a random, whimsical influence of the Holy Spirit. And if our fatherhood and motherhood, our work and play, laughter, music and romance are all bereft of the Holy Spirit, we are forced to look beyond our humanity for the Spirit and for real spirituality. But the Son of God became a human being, and in his ascension he did not discard his humanity as an old and useless robe. The incarnation and the continuing existence of the Son incarnate means that the Trinitarian life is now thoroughly human. Jesus spent most of his time not preaching, but working as a carpenter. Was his carpentry outside of his relationship with his Father and the Holy Spirit? To be sure, Jesus was anointed with the Spirit for his messianic work at the river Jordan, but that could never mean that the Holy Spirit or his Father were absent before that event. Jesus is the one who knows the Father and he is the one anointed in the Holy Spirit. The incantation means that he lived out his relationship with his Father and his relationship with the Holy Spirit as a human being, and he continues to do so now and for all eternity. The sphere of the Holy Spirit’s work is Jesus Christ, and the relationships that he has established (or reestablished) in his incarnate existence. To put this the other way around, Jesus has included the human race, and all creation in his own relationship with his Father and in his own anointing in the Holy Spirit. It is in our humanity that the Holy Spirit is bearing his fruit.
A while back there was a billboard not far from my home. It was an advertisement for a local Church. It read, “Escape the Ordinary.” There it was, Plato, Greek dualism, non-incarnational spirituality (in Jesus’ name) plastered for all to see. Jesus has been thoroughly disassociated from our ordinary humanity, the Holy Spirit is at work in some invisible, non-human sphere, so come to our Church to experience non-human spirituality. Why would we want to escape the ordinary when Jesus has embraced it and brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him? My heart hurts for the carpenters in that Church, and for the mothers and fathers, the teachers, cooks and nurses, the ‘ordinary’ workers who give themselves everyday to help make our world function. They have been duped into believing that they must come to Church (and who knows what else) to experience the Holy Spirit, when they should have been lead by the Church to see the blessed Trinity at the florist, or the gas station, or in the music, the laughter, the love and joy and service all around them.
When we don’t see it, we invent it. When the human race is ripped out of the embrace of the Triune God (in our fallen, Greek-infested imaginations), we are forced to invent a non-human spirituality, and then forced to convince people that what we have invented is indeed the real dingo. And then forced to believe that it is so, or that our boredom with this dance in the darkness is the fruit of our lack of commitment. Our humanity, our relationships, our loves, joys and burdens, our work, our play are all minimized, devalued and made to be second rate.
A pastor once came to me in tears because the Holy Spirit had ‘fallen’ on a Church across town, and left her and her congregation behind. She could not understand. They had fasted and prayed for months, yet the Holy Spirit fell on another congregation.
“Do you love your husband and children? I asked.
“Do you serve them, care for them? Wouldn’t you give your life for them?”
“Of course, I would,” she said with considerable intensity, and a quizzical look as if to ask ‘what has this got to do with the Holy Spirit?’
“Well,” I asked, “are you telling me that your love and care and service for your family, and your willingness to lay down your life for them, if necessary, all originate in you? Did you create that love? Are you that good? Or could it be that the love you know and experience for your family and for others is actually the super-natural, extraordinary love of the Father, Son and Spirit already at work within you?
Jesus said, “I am the light of the cosmos. The one who follows me shall never, ever walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). To follow Jesus means, at the very least, that we raise our hands and say, ‘Jesus, I do not want to see things the way that I see them any more. I want to see your Father, and the Holy Spirit, myself and others and all creation with your eyes, the way you see them.’ As the light of Jesus shines into our darkness, we will not be yearning to escape the ordinary, we will be stunned and full of wonder at the ordinary presence of the blessed Trinity in our humanity. Heaven is not a bodiless state in an invisible place. Heaven is the life of the Father, Son and Spirit coming to full and abiding expression in our human existence, and the earth and the cosmos are filled with the life and love and fellowship of the blessed Trinity. Meantime we grieve over the self-centeredness, over the lust and greed, the social and racial, environmental and political and religious injustices that run wild around us, wreaking such havoc in our lives. And we fast and pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us in our darkness. We pray for people to be given eyes to see and that the way things are in Jesus Christ would indeed emerge more and more in our human existence.
Thank you, Holy Spirit. Without you our lives would be a miserable mess of dark sadness. We are grateful for your presence and for the fruit you produce in our lives. Help us to see Jesus and his life in others, in work and play and music, in relationships, laughter and ordinary life. We are grieved that our world is so lost in the dark imagination of the fallen mind. We feel helpless to make any difference. Shine the light of Jesus.