Dear Readers: Recent events have prompted me to write the following. Hope it’s a blessing! Mark DuPre
Many Christians have settled into a faulty way of thinking about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the earth. When challenged about relationships, isolation, accountability, or submission to others, they strongly proclaim that their relationship to God is essentially “me and the Holy Spirit.” That sounds so spiritual, since it correctly declares that the Holy Spirit is part of our lives and wants to guide us. Either out of fear of control by others or out of pride (pride and fear being two sides of the same coin), while they rightly acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they wrongly interpret what that Holy Presence means and how God is acting.
In the Old Testament, many of God’s actions in and through people ended up being “them and the Holy Spirit.” There are many Old Testament accounts of the Holy Spirit falling on an individual for a particular purpose, be it creating, prophesying, or engaging in warfare. But in the New Testament, we see something different. Jesus told His disciples to wait until they were “clothed in power,” which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. But that great outpouring at Pentecost was very different in kind and in purpose from the individual anointings in the Old Testament.
For one, the Holy Spirit was poured out onto a group of people, not a single individual. They were then (ultimately) sent out to proclaim the good news, and yes, establish churches. The book of Acts and the rest of the New Testaments speaks to people living in community, not in isolation with a personally held Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led the New Testament writers to emphasize relationship and connection, even in the passages that encourage individual spiritual growth. There are approximately 150 references to how we are to act with and toward “one another.” Clearly our spiritual maturity comes as we interact with one another.
Even more pointed is the role that the gifts of the Holy Spirit play in our individual and corporate lives. A deep reading and meditation on 1 Corinthians 12 should make clear the interdependence we have in God. Just a brief overview:
- 4-6 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
Note especially v. 11, after a partial listing of different gifts that are parceled out to different individuals in the body:
- 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
God gives us different gifts so that more of God’s fullness in the Spirit can be manifested as we live, grow and work together. It’s clear that since God decides who gets what gifts based on His wisdom (Ephesians 1:11 says He “works all things according to the counsel of His will), no one individual can claim full access to the Holy Spirit’s fullness. God’s fullness in the Spirit is not just His presence in our lives, or even His drawing us close and speaking to us. His fullness includes all the gifts of insight and power that He has chosen to give to other people.
If a person wants it to really be “me and the Holy Spirit,” it’s imperative that this person repent of His pride, perhaps get prayer for his deception, and embrace the manifold presence of God through His Spirit, which is found in other members of the body of Christ.