If we truthfully don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, then certainly we’re ignorant of the full realities of God. Just reading the logic of this dilemma, however, is catastrophic to the loophole that we can be forgiven after denying the Holy Spirit. Can we truly claim we don’t know God's Spirit? Isn’t that him whispering in our ear, right now?
Image by Gerd Altmann
By John Pearring
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” Genesis 1:26.
The “us” in that text is a big clue about God. God’s got persons. And he made us to image him, confirming that we are built with his complexity. We know more about this Trinity God we image from Luke 12:8-12, in this past Saturday’s gospel.
"I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me [Jesus] before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.”
Many things can upend us being like God. Denying Jesus is right up there with rubbing elbows with Satan. God, though, will forgive even that aggression because we still have an opening, a correction with the Father, and an entreaty awaiting us—a reframing by the Holy Spirit with whom we have an intimate relationship. The Holy Spirit makes every effort to persuade us to return to God our Father and Jesus our brother and King. He is specifically there to help us overcome resistance.
This is how we know that God has persons. Deny Jesus, and we can still repent. We cannot deny the Holy Spirit and expect forgiveness. Jesus, yes. The Holy Spirit, no. That’s two different persons of God. Acknowledging both Jesus and the Holy Spirit takes place in front of the third person, the Father.
"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
That bridge too far specifically refers to publically denying Jesus, though a begrudging, snarky internal refusal of the Holy Spirit is not a good idea either. In the “moment” of being forced to call Jesus a liar and a fraud, and no friend of ours, like Peter experienced, there is a path back to God. Why is there no path back for denying the Holy Spirit?
“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."
We will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, even as we may cower and say nothing in Jesus’ defense. However, if we exorcise the Holy Spirit from us as if he were some demon ruining our life, we will have no defense, no comforter, and no way back to God.
“Frightened, we are,” Yoda would say to this troubling situation. The loopholes to offending God are clear to us—sin and repent. The locked doors to salvations are clear, too, but it’s us doing the locking. By shutting out the Holy Spirit, we shut down and abandon our entrance to God.
Critical importance in this line of thinking depends on following God first before denying God. To destroy ourselves requires following the right God and then doing an about-face.
Theologians tell us that these persons of God—“us”—come in a Trinity package of three relationships, all as one God. How in heaven’s name do we grasp this? How are we to image a multi-person God? Doesn't one God and many persons ultimately confuse us? Isn’t this our loophole about denying the Holy Spirit? It appears that many of us have not yet figured out the Holy Spirit.
Yes, kind of. If we truthfully don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, then certainly we’re ignorant of the full realities of God. Just reading the logic of this dilemma, however, is catastrophic to that loophole. Can we now truly claim we don’t know God? Isn’t that him whispering in our ear, right now?
Many religions, though mostly primitive, approach gods (little ‘g’) in a constructed polytheistic formula. The human mind can easily assess that no one God can take care of everything. One religion formed a god from the sea, another a god for love, and so on. Multiple god-like-being-faiths often live in a community, interacting with each other, arguing, and even battling out antagonistic interplays. Where did that notion come from? Some gods are created out of ethereal material, like the wind. Others morph the primitive idea of god as objects—fire and water. Many more assign their leader as a god of their tribe. The commonality is that all these gods were elevated according to what ruled over the people.
Which came first? Primitive, polytheistic gods, or the Trinitarian God of three in one? Argue what you will, but from the perch of Christianity, we see honest attempts at honoring the real God of three persons in polytheists. Constructed faiths attempt to reconnect, with memories and natural experiences, to the God of the scriptures known since the beginning of time.
Our faith teaches us that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not constructs but realities. That’s rather a condescending thing to say—constructed faiths— but hear what Jesus says. The Son is speaking. He identifies the Father, surrounded by worshipping angels, holding a court of acknowledgment. Jesus then warns us about the fatal importance of the Holy Spirit. We’re not condescending. Our faith is ascendant.
Polytheistic faiths own their gods. Christians do not own God. In effect, Christians who adamantly attempt to put God in charge presume to own God. Such activity is not necessary. God is in charge. Just because he gave us our free will and we live terrible death-ending lives does not eliminate his status.
Jesus speaks of allowing the Holy Spirit to give us words, specifically in dealing with folks who don’t subscribe to Christianity because creation belongs to him. He wants to witness, speak, and teach to creation through us. It is our job to be available as witnesses when God asks us. We desperately need the Holy Spirit for that.
We should not learn our faith lightly and then expect to make judgments about another faith. I believe a full knowledge and experience of our faith will lead us to respect the reverence of others, not to condemn them. Since humanity originally had a very close relationship with the Trinity, from our comfortable view in the future, we can look back at sinfulness radically altering the union of God and man. During the continual historic separations from the creator, men and women attempted to maintain what their ancestors knew of the creator.
In every such faith, there are openings for the Holy Spirit, drawing fervent god-fearing folks closer to the Father, and introducing them to Jesus. Through us.
Without the grace of God and his Holy Spirit, the Jewish and Christian scriptures would not have come out of the communities. It is their faith, handed to them by God, and the faith of the prophets that spoke with God, that tells us today of God’s constant presence and his specific communication.
We deny the Holy Spirit’s presence, indwelling, and entreaties to repent and turn to God with more than worry and concern. We do so at our peril and the missed joy of all those to whom God wanted us to witness.