English: The Human Spirit, a 2002 sculpture by...

The Human Spirit, a 2002 sculpture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My last few posts have explored the Christian understanding of spirit as heart, mind, will, and character—the essence of personhood.

Spirit can be regarded as a force. I don’t mean an impersonal force like gravity or weather, but a personal force that can know and be known. It can act, interact, choose, and do work as a force for good or evil.

Further, spirit is a force whether housed in an earthly body or not. Paul, for example, alludes to some kind of spiritual body that has substance (1Cor. 15:44). Verses all through the OT and NT consistently describe an active spirit world teeming with angels and other beings who carry out various tasks and deeds.

To put it another way, spirit has power. This is true of God’s Spirit, your spirit, and mine. While God is omnipotent and we’re not, that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. (more…)

Cropped screenshot of Charlton Heston from the...
Image via Wikipedia

As a follow-on to last Thursday’s post, one thing we tend to forget is that, while we want to trust God, God wants to trust us, too. It’s why He invites us to be in cahoots with Him.

We find much biblical evidence of divine partnership, the close working relationship between God and humanity. God directed Moses to go to the Hebrew slaves, lead them out of Egypt, and raise his staff at the Red Sea. God didn’t lift them out and transplant them into the Promised Land; He delivered them by partnering with Moses.

Noah got to build the ark. David got to sling that stone. Mary carried the unborn Christ nine months. Even the paralytics that Jesus healed were commanded to pick up their mats and walk. Everyone has a significant part to play and meaningful work to do with God!

He wants to share more and more of His power with us to contribute to His plan. That plan is for His children to safely rule and serve the earth in partnership with Him. (That’s our original purpose, and it hasn’t changed.) But He won’t do that unless He can trust us. And He can’t trust us if we’re paralyzed blobs living in fear of stealing His glory or earning His grace if we accomplish anything. He also can’t trust angry, self-righteous children who impose a warped view of Him on the world.

This ties to conforming to His good will rather than living on leashes and merely following rules. To illustrate the difference, I’ll use my experience from Air Force basic training. I loved everything about the Air Force except one thing: I think there should be a law against waking up before the crack of dawn. But that’s just me. Obviously, the Air Force feels differently.

So for six weeks I obeyed the Air Force’s will. I shot out of bed their way because I had no say-so in the matter. But just because I submitted and obeyed their will week after week doesn’t mean I was conformed to their will. Inside, my feelings never changed. So it wasn’t willingness that got me up before dawn, but willpower.

God is looking for something more rewarding for us than willpower. He wants solid joy, strength, ability, and internal goodness that spills outward to others. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful with a few things; I’ll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Mat. 25: 21, 23)

We know that God used Moses at the Red Sea, but we seldom consider that Moses also used God. In fact, all the biblical heroes did! They shared His vision. While many Christians say, “I’m nothing…just an instrument to be used by God,” I think if we also remember the flip side, we can inject some much-needed joy and spirit into the Christian life instead of a cheap sense of feeling used.

We’re in cahoots with a God who wants to give us charge of many things! Rather than grit His teeth in willpower, He’s faithful and rich enough to willingly share with trustworthy children. And that brings Him great happiness! I, for one, want to be rich in spirit, trusted, and on the same page with Him; it’s our life-driven purpose and direction.

Have you struggled with a sense of cheap insignificance, inability, and being used (not in a good way)? Take heart! That’s just the result of lack of vision, seeing only half the story–nothing that can’t be fixed. Once the whole vision of what God is doing becomes clearer, that sense of insignificance disappears. Willingness sparks to life; and that’s true conformation to God’s will!