The Age of Spirit

Indwelling Spirit

The Age of Spirit
Monday, May 20, 2019

The Holy Spirit is sent to the entire universe and since creation has been transforming [the universe], carrying it toward the final resurrection. . . . The same Spirit renews humanity. . . . This new humanity must move all nations, each in accordance with its diversity. The Spirit unites without imposing uniformity. —José Comblin [1]

From medieval times to the Great Awakening and other periods of religious revival, Christians have eagerly anticipated an age of the Spirit. But I believe all of history has been the age of the Spirit. Creation just keeps unfolding (see Romans 8:19-25). The evolution of stars, species, and consciousness has never stopped since the very beginning. In fact, we now know that the universe is still expanding. But our hierarchical, masculine-without-feminine, and static notion of God did not allow many to see this.

History keeps moving forward with ever-new creativity. Admittedly, this movement is accompanied by much push back. Just look at what’s happened in the last century! The immense advances in consciousness, science, technology, and awareness are astounding, despite all the horrible wars and injustice, both personal and systemic. While I don’t want to diminish how much we still have to do to create an equitable world, it’s become almost impossible for privileged folks to deny the ongoing marginalization of people of color, gender diverse individuals, the poor, and those with disabilities.

Theologian Jürgen Moltmann (b. 1926) writes:

In the experience of the Spirit a new community of rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated comes into being. The Spirit of God is no respecter of social distinctions; it puts an end to them. All Spirit-impelled revival movements in the history of Christianity have taken note of these social revolutionary elements in the experience of the Spirit and have spread them. They became a danger to the patriarchy, the men’s church and the slave-owners. [2]

The Holy Spirit never gives up on us. Scripture’s arc reveals the salvation of history and all creation, and not merely of individuals. Divine covenants are with the people collectively—the “house” and the future. Individuals like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, and Esther are only the instruments and the mediators. Each individual is caught up in the salvific sweep of history, almost in spite of herself or himself, as YHWH shows mercy to Israel and their descendants forever (see, for example, Genesis 13:15; Exodus 32:13).

The Spirit is like a homing device put inside of us, and all creation, too. For all of our ignorance and mistakes, there is in everything this deep, internal dignity convinced of its own value. This divine indwelling keeps insisting, “I am what I am seeking!” This is surely what Jesus means when he says that all true prayers are already assured of their answer (see Matthew 7:7-8 and 1 John 5:14-15).

It’s God in you that loves God; it’s God through you that recognizes God elsewhere; it’s God for you that assures you that you are finally and forever okay.  This is Trinitarian spirituality, which buttresses you on every side. This is what it means to live inside the Trinitarian flow. And it is all now, and not just later. You are already home free!

References:
[1] José Comblin, The Holy Spirit and Liberation (Wipf & Stock Publishers: 1989), 75.

[2] Jürgen Moltmann, The Source of Life (Fortress Press: 1997), 23.

Adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 146-147, 150-151.

Image credit: The Miraculous Haul of Fishes (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, between 1913 and 1914, National Academy of Design, New York, NY.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. —Richard Rohr
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