Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Spirit of Truth: With You and In You

The Indwelling of Deity in the Believer by Gilbert Torres

A few days ago I received an email from a friend I met several years ago on Interfaith Dialogue in Orkut in pre-Facebook days. It had been a very long time since I had heard from him, but I was greeted with the usual, endless barrage of questions including castigations on Christians and broad swipes on scripture. This from a man who states, and I believe him, that he is a seeker of truth. He struggles with what he sees as the shortfall of disciples to walk the talk of Jesus. As much as I agreed with him I also noted that this is the familiar tactic where the seeker turns his focus away from the unpleasantries of being crucified with Christ. It is easier to look and point out the shortcomings in others than to stay focused on our own cross. He agreed. I limited my focus to one or two questions which, in turn, I related to all his other questions instead of trying to answer every tidal wave of questions. One of the many matters which he struggles to grasp is the Holy Spirit. I pointed out to him that this is true of a lot of saints in Christ.

A breakthrough occurred
when he took to heart and pondered the distinction I made between the Spirit being WITH the believer and being IN the believer. I noted that the Spirit is WITH him. He stated that he was very much encouraged by those words.

I remain a fan of the Beatles music after all these years. Much as my brothers and I denied or suppressed that we loved their early pop R&B we loved it and were great admirers even when their music changed radically. The song Within You and Without You comes to mind. It reflects some of what The Beatles, particularly George Harrison, were coming to realize in their own lives and search about what is WITHIN us and what is WITHOUT us. But, as much as I like the song and sitar many years ago in the Lord I saw it as being woefully inadequate in terms of understanding and enlightenment for the seeker.

Jesus revealed to his disciples a simple and probably baffling truth. When they expressed their frustration and angst concerning what they probably thought of as -the whole Father business thing- Jesus replied with two other seemingly baffling realities, 1) that if they had seen Jesus they had seen the Father, and 2) that the Spirit was WITH them and that He would be IN them. (John 14:17)

The unfortunate truth is that the vague message which the song reflects is precisely how the world attempts to see and put into words the viewer and his words in the same picture of the world. Jesus said with respect to the Spirit of truth that, the world, cannot  receive, because it does not see Him or know Him. This is precisely what causes my friend, who by his own self-description has bipolar-mania, a great deal of anxiety.

What was reassuring to the disciples, and to my friend, was to hear and realize that some of the same words which the disciples would soon receive from the Holy Spirit they had received them from the one, Jesus, who was WITH them. This same Spirit would soon be IN the disciples once the promise had been fulfilled, namely, the coming of the Holy Spirit which could only occur and would only occur after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus back to the Father. The Holy Spirit who came IN the disciples and comes IN the believer today. The believer does not seek to see the Spirit. However, it is when the believer knows and understands the Spirit that more importantly, it is others who see the Spirit in him. It is in this manner that the disciples, Jesus said, had seen the Father; a truth they had not realized or grasped. Just like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is to be known and understood by the believer because to know one is to see the other.

This was not and is not now a deep, dark, great mystical, convoluted mystery incapable of being understood and received by the seeker. It is alive and active today and able to not merely change the seeker, but to transform him from WITHIN to WITHOUT because the Holy Spirit who was WITH him during the days of his search for truth is now IN him through faith in Jesus.

peace to all in Jesus

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