There is a popular Christian teaching floating around the theological world these days. I saw it bought up by a friend of mine, Chris DeLuna, pastor at Church of Grace in Robstown. The teaching is that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and won’t force Himself or His ways upon anyone. Now, Pastor Chris has been bringing this idea up while looking at Jonah and Paul and asking the question, “Really?” The Holy Spirit sent Jonah to Ninevah, and when Jonah went the other way, well, you know the rest of the story. Paul was on his way to Damascus when the Holy Spirit broke into his life as a blinding light. He left Paul blind until Ananias prayed for him. He changed the direction of Paul’s life from persecutor to persecuted. The Holy Spirit didn’t sit back and wait for permission to do His work in Paul’s and Jonah’s lives.
What this teaching fails to understand is that The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity: He is God. While the teaching sounds wonderful to our ears, it is human wisdom that doesn’t play well in a godly arena. Jesus talked about the movement of the Spirit and compared Him to the wind, moving wherever He wills. God will work. God’s will shall prevail. As Paul continued his message to the Corinthian Church, he brought up the work of The Holy Spirit. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
Perhaps Paul was dealing with a faction in the Corinthian Church that sought to portray him as weak and ineffective. He wasn’t one of the original apostles, so Peter had him beat there; according to tradition, Apollos was a gifted orator who outclassed Paul in eloquence. They may have been wondering what Paul had to offer, perhaps forgetting that he brought the gospel to Corinth in the first place. This whole chapter focuses on the work and the person of the Holy Spirit. There is a divide between those who have the Spirit and those who don’t have the Spirit. Those without the Spirit see His work as foolishness, much like we talked about yesterday. Those with the Spirit have an understanding, small though it may be, of the mind of God. Paul doesn’t say any of this to attack Apollos or Peter, he’s pointing out the truth about the Spirit so that those who fallen under the influence of human wisdom will seek God’s wisdom.
Let’s be honest – we can make the gospel all about human wisdom and understanding. We can look at the historical record and get into discussions that we can win using apologetics. We can look at how we believe God SHOULD act and define God and His behavior in that way. C. S. Lewis used the example of the theologian who was working on the hypothesis of all the good that Jesus could have done if only he hadn’t died at such a young age in the book The Great Divorce. Limitations on God and His work are not new. What we need to overcome this world, though, is godly wisdom. What we need is the Spirit moving in our lives, not waiting for us to give Him permission or seeking His action, but moving in His own timing. We need the mind of Christ, which Paul points out comes not from human wisdom but by the Spirit of God. So here’s the challenge for today: don’t seek to give God limited permission as to what you will let Him do in your life – that’s human wisdom; open your heart to understanding God’s will for you and then jump into that with your whole being. In other words, as Henry Blackaby has said, find out what God is doing and jump into action with Him.
Oh Lord, how easily I seek to limit You. I look at situations and wonder what I can do rather than realizing that there’s nothing You can’t do. Help me to see You working in this world and get involved with Your plan instead of trying to get You to work according to my plan.