Connections 06.05.2022: The Holy Spirit

John 14:8-17, 25-27

As a young child in church, I heard a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this mysterious figure was called the “Holy Ghost,” making it more mysterious and even a little scary. Often the name came in a list: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” My young mind pictured three distinct individuals—a giant, white-haired old man in the sky; a younger man on the ground with long hair, a beard, dusty feet, and a dress-like robe; and a shimmery, floating, see-through figure.

In my teenage years, I could at least consider the idea of the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit transformed into a kind of conscience. We were taught in youth group that when we found ourselves tempted to sin, we should listen to the voice inside us urging us to do the right thing. That, we learned, is the Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit became the voice that made me feel more Christ-like than friends who chose to drink alcohol, have sex, smoke, and get tattoos. The Spirit was always watching me, warning me when I got too close to sin.

Thankfully, adulthood has given me a new, healthier understanding of the Holy Spirit. It’s more than a mysterious, scary presence. It’s more than a conscience making me feel bad about sinful thoughts and actions—or superior to others who make sinful choices. I’ve come to understand the Spirit as the direct presence of God that inhabits my entire body. Because of this Spirit, I’m never alone. I can read the Bible or sing hymns or look at nature and feel close to Jesus. I can be at peace regardless of my circumstances. I can make better decisions. I can see the divine in every human being. I can love without conditions. I can face heartbreak and loss.

Jesus, who had been such a steady presence with the disciples during his three years of ministry, knew they would need this gift of the Spirit once he left them to be with God. He understood that his time on earth was coming to an end, but he would never leave his followers alone. “The Father,” he promised, “will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth…. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.… [T]he Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:16-17, 26).

The Spirit is our Advocate. The Spirit will always be with us, abiding with us, within us. The Spirit teaches us and reminds us of who we are in Jesus Christ. Give thanks today for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Discussion

• What are your earliest conceptions of the Holy Spirit? What did you think the Spirit looked like? What was the Spirit’s job?
• How has your perception of the Holy Spirit evolved during your faith journey?
• Why do you think God gave us the Holy Spirit?
• Do you truly sense the Spirit at work in your daily life? If so, how?
• What can you do to cultivate a better awareness of the Holy Spirit, who is with you and within you?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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