Misunderstood

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“What a crock!”

My friend was astonished at her grown son’s reaction to the old sermon notes he found on her kitchen table.

“What’s a crock?” she asked, attempting not to feel defensive.

“This says that we can do nothing without God. That’s crap! I do stuff without God every day!”

And suddenly her defensiveness was overwhelmed with sadness for her son, and hope that he would hear what she had to say.

“Do you remember the years that I was addicted to drugs?” she asked.

“Of course. How could I forget?”

“And do you notice how different my life is now?”

He squirmed in his chair as if uncomfortable, but nodded. “Yeah.”

“Well,” she continued, “I couldn’t have done it by myself. And even though there were people to help me, when we moved away from our family and moved here, I needed someone to depend on that wouldn’t leave me. That was God. He has brought me to where I am.”

The young man cleared his throat, made a joke, and changed the subject, but my friend’s words stayed with me as a clear example of the Holy Spirit.

The Helper.

The Comforter.

The Teacher.

And so much more.

When my friend told me that story, I told her how it spoke to me. How we’re going to be discussing this book, and how easy it is (I think) for us to forget the Holy Spirit, or worse, put Him in a box and only expect or accept certain things from Him. We misunderstand Him.

Care for examples?

For years, I sang on choirs and praise teams in churches where contemporary music played a key role in the worship service. We would sing a lovely song that made everyone feel good, and the next thing you know, we have to sing that song every Sunday to recapture that feel-good feeling. Because that feeling is The Spirit, right? No. The Spirit is so much more than a feeling!

I am under no illusion that I can fit the Holy Spirit into a single blog post, so I’m not even going to try. But I do want to establish today that I believe that the Holy Spirit is a person – with feelings and a personality, who wants to help us and have a relationship with us.

“As we trust in the promises of the Spirit, we will be led away from discouragement and into lives marked by confidence, power in the midst of our weakness, and the fruit of the Spirit.”

Francis Chan said that we will be so marked by confidence and strength and fruit that the world will be able to look at us and tell that we have been with Jesus.

I think that’s a good thing, and I want that. Right after I moved to the Pacific Northwest, a friend called my roommate and said her motorbike had broken down. She needed a ride. So, my roommate and I went to pick her up. Now, I wish I could remember what I said, but I don’t. All I remember is that when we got there to pick her up, I hugged her, and started talking. And after a couple of minutes, I realized she was staring at me with her mouth open, so I immediately stopped talking and asked what was wrong. And the response was sad: “I’m just not used to people who call themselves Christians acting like Christians.”

I promise you that I’m not a perfect Christian. I am certainly not an example for anybody to be following. But I want more of that kind of reaction. Not that people will think that I’m superior or righteous or holy. But that people will feel the love in me and put the label of “Christ” on it. And that the love that I exhibit will be a love that’s worthy of that label. And the Holy Spirit in me is the only way that will happen.

What are some ways you see the Holy Spirit working in your life? Have you been around people who you think misunderstand the Holy Spirit? How do you handle that?

This post is the first of a series of discussions on Francis Chan’s book, “Forgotten God.” You do not have to read the book to share your thoughts with us. Feel free to leave a comment below. If you have written a post about this chapter (the Introduction), then please go link it up at the widget, which you will find at Endless Impact, my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen’s site.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Barbara says:

    We aren’t perfect examples, but we are living examples…as the little church over on Camden Road says…that seems to make sense to me…I think that’s what you are saying….I am glad when people react they way that lady did towards you….What you did is what we all should do, in any situation…Thanks for the reminder..

  2. Vic Varis says:

    Really well written Sarah!

  3. Sarah, my life is a daily immersion in understanding the power and presence the Holy Spirit, a person, not just a good feeling. I didn’t always think this way, but when my mind was changed (by reading ‘Forgotten God’ 2 years ago) it made a huge difference.
    Recently I sent an email to a friend who is serving in a medical mission and ‘just happened’ to ask her exactly what she did on a daily basis (she’s in Nigeria. And she’s 60 years old). I sent the email Friday. She wrote me back over the weekend to tell me what a very difficult week it had been and how timely my email was; it gave her an occasion to review just how good God is. I thought to myself how grateful I was that I listened to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit, our friend, our teacher and our guide into ‘all things.’
    I’m so happy you’re going to be talking about Forgotten God.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Vic! 🙂

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks for coming by, Jody! 🙂

  6. SO interesting. Even people who don’t name Christ as Lord many times understand what a Christian is to look like or have some reference. None of us are perfect yet (and we have a long way to go!), but the Holy Spirit is a prerequisite to living in that transformation. And I so appreciate that you brought out the Holy Spirit is a person and not a feeling or goosebumps. It’s a beautiful reality to know and experience Him! Thanks Sarah. Loving the start of our discussions!

  7. Powerful story to kick it off and great thoughts. This is going to be a fun study; I’m glad to be a part of it. Praying we are all moved by the Holy Spirit in a way we’ve never seen before in this. Blessings!

  8. Great examples! Yes, I think the Holy Spirit is a person and is worthy of us getting to know Him better. He is alive in us. I’m so looking forward to this book club discussion. I pray we are all changed through this process, that we all grow closer to God and allow the Spirit to have reign in our lives!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, I’m loving it, too! 🙂

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Amen to that, Phil!

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    TC, I agree that He is worthy of us getting to know Him better. I will take it a step further (I think you’ll agree!) and say that we will not be able to live the abundant lives He has for us UNTIL we get to know Him better. Glad to be taking this journey together, my friend! 🙂

  12. I do agree, Sarah! And I want to live that abundant life! What a wonderful journey we are on.

  13. Daniel Rodriguez says:

    Wow, I have read five blogs and I feel so uplifted. When you told me you were a writer and that I should check out your blog, I couldn’t wait to experience your art, and read your words. I had no idea that you wrote about your spirituality and it’s something I myself have been struggling with. I myself have many scars, that I refused to let Him tend to after the first dozen whoppers I experienced. It warmed my heart to read your adjoints though and I thank you!

  14. Sarah Salter says:

    Daniel, I’m glad you came by and left a note! And I’m glad you enjoyed what you read, even if it may have challenged you a bit. I’ll be honest — we all have struggles and scars and dents and bruises. But by coming here and saying, “Here they are!” I take some of the power away from them in my life. And, I give other people the power of knowing that they aren’t alone. Come back any time! 🙂

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