Dr. RB McFee
“21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:21 – 22 NIV
Some T shirts say “beer is proof God loves us.” Not a chance! For theological accuracy sake, the T shirt should read “chocolate is proof that God loves us!” (Actually I have a better T shirt saying, but it’s further into the article). And if that be the case (about chocolate), God has inspired a variety of specialty food chains over the years to demonstrate it – a lot! Think Hershey Chocolates ™, Baskin Robbins ®, Godiva, Max Brenner, Burdick’s, the list goes on and on.
Irony on this article – I rarely eat ice cream, and never heard of Baskin Robbins until college.
That said, this morning I was thinking about the Holy Spirit from a theological perspective, and how He factored into the religious practices of my various friends from college, and throughout my life.
Funny how you (the Holy Spirit) link seemingly unrelated thoughts together – like Baskin Robbins ice cream and Christian theology.
Think about it. There are multiple flavors at Baskin Robbins, and how many “flavors” of Christianity – denominations if you will – that have arisen in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ?
Just off the top of my head there are the former Byzantines, which now represent the various Eastern, Russian, Assyrian, Greek Orthodox churches, Roman Catholics, the Coptic Christians who are among the earliest followers of Jesus, plus Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Congregationalists, and let’s not forget the many types of Baptists. And that’s just for starters!
What does that have to do with Pentecost and the Holy Spirit you might wonder?
When I hang out with one of my college friends – a Roman Catholic – the Holy Spirit is front and center during our talks about each others’ faith journeys; frequently a main part of our discussions.
When I hang out with one of my childhood friends – a traditionalist Baptist (not to be confused with Northern, American, or less traditional versions) – Jesus is center stage in our faith talks.
With other Christian friends we focus on God Himself.
To be sure for those of us celebrating the Trinity, Who we focus on ultimately relates to the same Being. But is that enough or all there is to the story, case closed, it doesn’t matter how we reference God in our life as long as He is there?
Perhaps; and while the most important aspects of our declared Christianity should be to love God and each other, and to devote our lives to our Creator, do we not miss something special when we don’t focus on the unique Nature of each Member of the Holy Trinity, and how that influences our relationship with Him?
I’ve noticed – yes a broad paint brush – Catholics tend to focus more on the Holy Spirit than several of our Protestant denominations. Alternatively, I’ve been in some Protestant services where the Holy Spirit is almost never mentioned except at Pentecost. Then once the Holy Winds died down and the Disciples go on their ministries, the Holy Spirit gets set aside again until the next post Easter season.
There’s a bitter irony in that practice. Given Jesus told His Disciples, and us, that He was allowing the very Power that Resurrected Him, to become available for and in each of us, yet for many Christians, we spend the least amount of time discussing, studying, talking about, or praying to the Holy Spirit – that Power of God Who indwells us.
There are three Flavors of God, and without question we all relate differently to the Trinity, like ice cream or vegetable choices based upon preference, experience, and how we conceptualize.
In the movie The Shack, recall when the character ‘Mack’ meets the three Members of the Trinity at the same time. Not surprisingly he is mentally overwhelmed, trying to take Them all in.
Seeing this, Jesus as the Divine Mortal takes Mack to the water, where they talk about the Trinity. Mack tells Jesus (paraphrasing) ‘of the Three of you, I relate to You (Jesus) the most.’ Jesus replies (paraphrasing) “of course you do, because I’m human.”
That may only tell part of the story why most Christians, focus on Jesus.
Clearly as “Christians,” it makes sense we have come to know God through His Son Jesus. As such it stands to reason much of what we are taught, or how we process our Christianity focuses on Jesus – He was like us, born of mortal Mary (Luke 2).
And yet Jesus went to great lengths to foretell the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted us to become connected with this Personage of God in our midst, just like He wanted to be in relationship with us. So much so that He told us, the Comforter can’t come to us unless He leaves.
Jesus said to His Disciples….
6“But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”
John 16: 6 - 7
Jesus said He had to leave in order for us to get to know the Holy Spirit, to feel Him and to tap into the Power this Part of the Holy Trinity came to give Peter and the Disciples, you and me.
The Holy Spirit was a Gift Jesus sacrificed to give us. He sacrificed Himself on the Cross. Jesus as a Divine mortal even sacrificed His own happiness leaving behind people He loved and enjoyed hanging out with. Time He could have had with friends and family after the Resurrection, Jesus limited to facilitate the gift of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill God’s mission – the Gospel.
That said, there are so few scriptures on the Holy Spirit compared with those specifically naming Jesus, or God; perhaps that puts a learning imbalance on the Members of the Trinity? This in spite of the fact it is the Holy Spirit Who animates much of the events and teachings of the Bible? Who animates us!
The Voice of the Lord that we hear, it is the Holy Spirit whispering to us.
When I started to experience the Methodist church this was one of the most important Gifts – hearing on a more frequent basis outside of Pentecost, first the Name and then the significance of the Holy Spirit. We are blessed with this teaching legacy. And we can build on it, because at the end of the day, as Christians, we are more than a one, or two flavored theology.
The Holy Spirit is worth talking about, so we’ll do more in upcoming articles.
In the interim, maybe we can spend a little more time thinking about, praying to, focusing on the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to be a greater Presence in our daily lives, and appreciating the Member of the Trinity Who came as God to dwell within us, as Comforter, Guide, Conveyor of Peace, Protector and Giver of Power-filled Gifts of the Spirit.
Like Baskin Robbins, our God comes in many forms, and for specific, important, and powerful reasons – whether God the Almighty, Jesus the Divine mortal, or the Holy Spirit Who animates and gives life, they each have a role to play in our lives, and a Power to take us where God alone can lead us.
As we enter Pentecost, may we experience the Holy Trinity in all their unique and united forms within and for us, so that we can reflect the Love of Christ, in the Peace of God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit to a world that is watching, and looking for hope, love, forgiveness, compassion, and guidance.
We are people of the Light; may the Holy Spirit animate us to provide the glow that casts out the darkness, in His Name.
Pentecost And Baskin Robbins Christianity – Take time to enjoy the Flavors of God and His Goodness in your life. Even more than chocolate, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate proof God loves us ©.