In my last post, we looked at what it means to be “spiritual.” It can be summarized in this statement: allowing the Spirit of the living Christ to transform you and, through you, those around you. Today I want to look how the Holy Spirit does that transforming work.
The Spirit’s work in us—Character and Competence
The transforming work of the Spirit growing us spiritually begins in the inner person. He regenerates and renews our hearts. He enables us to grow in our knowledge of God and our knowledge of ourselves. He brings about changes in our wills, emotions, attitudes and perspectives. He develops within us the fruit of the Spirit. He empowers us to live in faithfulness before the Lord and makes us people of character and competence in Him. The grace of the Spirit provides both the motivation and enablement to gladly and successfully do what the Lord calls you to do (Philippians 2:13).
One of the ways we cooperate with the Spirit in this transforming process is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines might be described as those personal and corporate habits of devotion and experiential Christianity whose practice promotes growth spiritually. These practices are ways of putting ourselves in the path of the Spirit’s transforming grace and so experience change.
The Spirit’s work among us—Building a Community
While the Holy Spirit builds into each of us personal spirituality, there is also a corporate aspect, a communal spirituality that is to characterize us as the body of Christ. This community of the Spirit is bound together by faith in Jesus Christ and the distinguishing quality of this community is love. Jesus said that the unity and love of Christians for one another would be the defining marks of their connection to Him and a witness to the world of the reality of His heavenly origin—John 13:34-35; 17:20-23.
The Holy Spirit gifts the people of Christ to fulfill their calling in the body of Christ. While these gifts are to individual people, they are given for the good of the whole church. The Spirit empowers believers to use their gifts, transforming them individually and transforming the communities of which they are a part.
The Spirit’s work through us—Impacting the World
The individual believer, as well as the community of God’s people, has the responsibility of showing the world the glory of God. The work of the Spirit through us to impact the world might be considered in two ways: proclamation and demonstration.
Proclamation centers on the preaching of the gospel and the calling of people to believe in Jesus and become His followers. The power of the Spirit makes our proclamation a spiritual activity as He fills us, energizes us, and works in the hearts of men and women to draw them to Himself.
The Spirit through us goes beyond proclamation and calls us to demonstration. There is a multitude of ways that this can be expressed. However we might summarize them as acts of justice and mercy. The beatitudes of Matthew 5:5-10 outline the kind of lifestyle that is committed to issues of justice and mercy. This demonstration in the power of the Spirit transforms us as well as the world around us and serves the common good.
Obviously this is only a brief description of how the Holy Spirit works in these ways. But it is enough to be thankful for the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives—which helps us to experience glory in the grind.