Tuesday, March 15, 2011

THE TRANSFORMING WORK OF THE SPIRIT

Jesus never brainwashed anyone. To the contrary, He depicted the cost of following Him in the most realistic terms imaginable, "Take up your cross and follow Me." He never imposed Himself on another person but always left room for choice and even rejection. In that same style, any changes God works in a person will come about not as a result of coercion from the outside but by a Spirit working from within, summoning up new life, transforming from the inside, out. The words used to describe God's Spirit -- Comforter, Helper, Counselor -- imply that change may involve a slow, internal process, with many fits and starts.

After considering the various words used of the Holy Spirit, both in Greek and in English, James Houston summarizes them in the simple word "friend." A true friend always has my best interest at heart. Sometimes the Spirit must, like a good friend, use tough love to remind me of what needs to change -- knowing me from the inside out. God can bring to mind shortcomings I would prefer to overlook. Yet when I feel empty, misunderstood, and lonely, the Spirit offers comfort, calming my anxiety and fear. Most of all, the Spirit reminds me of God's love, His very presence a token of the fact that I have been graciously adopted as God's child.

-- Philip Yancey in Reaching for the Invisible God

 
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