‘This is the air I breathe…This is the air I breathe…Your Holy Spirit living in me’
Michael W. Smith
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the hugeness of the Message of Christ and the Love of God thing that we, as believers, hang our hat on, trust in and sometimes struggle with so. I’ve been thinking about what I believe, and especially what I believe about the Spirit of God; thinking about how we need more than just the Holy Spirit of God to show up at a meeting or in an emergency. We need One that we’re certain never leaves us or forsakes us, One that’s a Comforter, One that’s with us every day and in our night. A Holy Spirit of God that is just as likely to speak to us at a soccer game as He is to speak to us in the sanctuary, One who finds us at the office or at Wal-Mart and at church. We need a Holy Spirit of God that is with us when we are just two or more and not One that only visits the ten thousands.
Let us just suppose this Spirit thing is real, I mean so real that it blows our minds how powerful and how wonderful the story of Christ and the mission that God the Father set out for us believers ages ago. You know when we mention ghost we think of something akin to Casper the friendly ghost; kind of a cartoon image sort of jumps into our brains. In our imaginations, ghosts are things that go bump in the night and things we fear, or else we think such things do not exist. Yet, in the Wisdom of God, He chose to relate His story to us using the term the ‘Holy Spirit’ (or in the Christian tradition, Holy Ghost) and Spirit is supposed to make sense to us in some way. Of course we find ‘spirit talking’ a bit more comfortable when we associate it with something spooky, something pretend or something we cannot really believe in. We are left to speculate about the ‘supernatural world’ when spirits are described, yet God has taught us, very definitely, that there is a need to learn about Spirit. Somehow, He actually considers the words ‘Holy Spirit’ a necessary part of how we are to interpret His story.
The spirit world has been an issue for believers from the beginning. I’m not talking team Edward and team Jacob here, no Twilight stuff. I mean that as believers, we have to place the teaching of Scripture, both the Hebrew and the Greek, in the context of Spirit versus spirit. We are taught about a spirit of anti-Christ that was and is even now among us. Baby killings have been with us in every age; it was present under the OT Kings, it was happening when Christ was born and it continues today in epidemic proportion. Why? The Ten Commandments were given to Moses because men and women transgressed then, and they continue to transgress against them today. Why? Divorce is rampant, financial greed and corruption is ancient and contemporary as well. There’s a spirit that’s set against the Love of God, the Christ of God and it does not and has not changed from generation to generation. It repeats itself in every man, in each culture, time and gender. Why is it so universal? Well, because it springs from one source, a spirit set again the Father’s Love. He gave us the Ten Commandments to be our guide. If those simple 10 were followed, all the rest of the rebellion would be eliminated. If we loved, if we had Him as our source, we would not steal, we would not commit adultery, would not do drugs, would not rob banks, there would be no war, we would wish well to all and would not do to people what we do to people. But, that ‘worm sweat vile’ spirit is set against those 10 and manifests itself in every evil work imaginable. There is one central cause, this spirit of anti-Christ, for what we see but there are many manifestations of its opposition to the Father’s heart.
However, the Holy Spirit of God has come to overcome the world and the anti-Christ spirit. In the OT the Spirit of God was administered to the Prophet, Priest or King. Only those three received Him. Today, He is poured out on all flesh and He manifests Himself in those people that permit that to happen, permit Him to be a part of their lives. Just as Christ administered the covenant of Grace in the Gospels, with the resurrection of Christ a Holy Spirit of God has come and filled the earth. And, He gives gifts to men and women. The very air we breathe is charged with His presence. In the Hebrew tradition the name of God was never spoken, only the exhale of their breath was permitted in reference to the Name of God. When the covenant of God was cut with Abram, the new relationship between God and man was expressed in Abram’s new name: Abra[ha]m. From then on, Abram’s name included the breath of God and signified the mingling of God with man. In fact the closest translation of the Hebrew word neshamah, the word translated almost 200 times as Spirit in the OT, is mostly associated with the English word breath. Jason Gray sings a song teaching us that the first thing we say at birth and the last thing we exhale is ‘breath’ or God’s ancient name. (‘The Sound of Our Breathing’)
God, by that I mean His Holy Spirit, is everywhere. There is nowhere He is not. The Spirit of God covers the earth, just as the anti-spirit of Christ challenges all in the earth. The Holy Spirit is the functioning agent of God post-resurrection. God the Father and the Word of God (the Son) made the earth and all that is in it. When the Christ of God was crucified and raised from the dead, the Holy Spirit of God came as our guide and comforter. We don’t have a simple war between good and evil but a war between Spirit and spirit, a Holy One and an unholy one. Even though we see flesh and blood at war it is not simply flesh and blood that war. There is a universal anti-Christ spirit in the persons, the families, the community, the country and the whole world.
God blankets the earth with His Spirit. An example might be if we lived in a balloon. In that balloon, the very air that’s inside the balloon fills all the spaces that we do not fill, we are enveloped by the presence of God, there is no place He is not. Everything that is not us is Him. He would see all, be all, be in all, knowing all because apart from the space we occupy, He occupies. Our problem is having interpreted everything though our senses (what we see and what we feel) we have not learned to hear the ‘still, small voice’ of God, who is Spirit. Not the Casper kind but the Holy Kind.
God believed it was necessary to teach us of this Spirit and important for us to really consider it, not as an allegory or symbol, but real. Our task is to take something invisible, something that we have hidden and masqueraded as mystical or silly and make that a part of the foundational truth of the Gospel message; a significant part of the triune nature of God. Ours is to not let the cartoons and the horror, of which most popular spirituality is portrayed, take away and diminish the powerful work of God found in His teaching of Spirit. Christian author G. K. Chesterton stated the following: “You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil; you are free to say like Renan that He would like to exist if He could. You may talk of God as a metaphor or a mystification; you may water Him down with gallons of long words, or boil Him to the rags of metaphysics… But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can.” Many times that’s done by reducing the Spirit to the spirit pretenders of Casper and Edward and Jacob.