One of my congregation members told me that he doesn’t have a clear mental picture of the Holy Spirit. He has no problem envisioning Jesus. He thinks of all the stories of Jesus laughing, Jesus eating and drinking, Jesus doing miracles, and Jesus spending time with people. But he doesn’t have much to go on with the Holy Spirit: doves, rushing wind, tongues of fire, and that sort of thing that kind of thing. Nothing that conveys a sense of personality.
The Holy Spirit is the introvert of the Trinity, a master of redirection. Sure, the Holy Spirit has pizzazz. That Pentecost appearance with all the fire and the different languages – that was dramatic. But as soon as he’s got everyone’s attention, the Spirit nudges Peter to give a sermon all about Jesus. That’s the Holy Spirit’s way: continually guiding our gaze to Jesus, rather than hoarding the attention.
And that’s how it is in the Trinity. The One God exists as a community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, constantly giving deference to each other. The Trinity shows us that relationship is at the heart of God’s character. Jesus teaches his disciples about the Holy Spirit. He pulls back the curtain a wee bit, offering a glimpse of the Trinitarian love:
“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15, English Standard Version)
The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son declares truth to the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit declares the truth of the Son to humanity; the Son presents redeemed humanity back to the Father. No demands for priority of place here. Mutual deference. Giving to one another. That’s the Trinitarian community.
This same Holy Spirit inspires the prophets, all of whom point us to Jesus, even if only in shadowy ways (see I Peter 1:10-12). John the Baptist says, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Can’t you hear the influence of the Holy Spirit?
Now here’s the encouraging news. The Holy Spirit invites us to join in the community. The Spirit declares the truths of Christ and kindles belief in our hearts. The Spirit signs the adoption papers bringing us into the family. We’re given a seat at the table and told we belong. Christ’s work on the cross made all these things possible, and Christ work of sending the Spirit makes all these things effective.
Soli Deo Gloria
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