I have a habit of not expecting shows to live up to their hype and being proven wrong. Stranger Things was no exception. Everyone who had a Netflix account, it seems, was talking about it. Going into it, all I knew was that I hadn’t heard a single bad thing about it and it looked a lot like The Goonies, so I was interested.
I watched it with my brother over the course of two Sundays. We watched the first half one day and watched the second half one week later. It almost physically pained me to wait that long.
But because some people may not have watched or finished it yet, I won’t go into any details about the show. I just want to say that when Pastor Alan said he had a mini-series planned that would be using the Stranger Things font, I was immediately interested. (I’m also interested in discussing the show if someone else would like to do so.)
The truth of it is that we do treat the Holy Spirit (or the Holy Ghost, whichever you’d prefer to call it) as a stranger thing. It’s something we don’t understand, so we avoid it to the point that it becomes a little taboo in general. And I think a large part of the reason is because we have something to compare the other two parts of the Trinity to. God is an authoritative figure and a figure of power. We can all relate to that in some way, for better or for worse. Jesus is the most human component since He was actually human, and we can relate to Him the most. The Holy Spirit is abstract. We can’t put our finger on it and have nothing tangible and consistent to compare it to. It empowers us and convicts us and pushes us, and since those manifest themselves differently in each our lives, we don’t know what to make of something that does it to all of our lives equally.
The Holy Spirit is evident in both the Old Testament and the New, but for the sake of time, I want to focus on the power of the Holy Spirit because I think it’s the most prevalent quality of the Holy Spirit in our lives and one we don’t often think about.
Acts 2:41-47 (NRSV) reads, “So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
As we discussed last week, peace and harmony don’t happen all the time even among people who share the same belief systems. So the Holy Spirit’s power here is shown in bringing people together. I have never seen anything that so perfectly demonstrates harmony through selflessness. Not just getting along but being altogether on the same page. We don’t read that some sold their possessions and others thought they were idiots for doing so. We don’t see that one said to another, “Ew. I don’t like him, and I’m eating lunch with someone else from now on.” No, the Spirit was empowering them and enabling to look beyond themselves and strengthen other people in doing so. It empowered them to be more like God. As a result, the number of believers kept growing and growing.
And all this and other miracles being done via the apostles is equally as impressive. Don’t get me wrong; I understand and respect the role of the apostles in the history of the church and as leaders in our faith. But we know these guys. We know how much they struggled learning what Jesus was teaching them and seeking the will of God and acting in faith, and here they are performing actual miracles. It’s not on their own strength or merit; it’s a result of the Holy Spirit.
Inspiring, isn’t it? A bunch of people with no formal education and different backgrounds coming together and doing incredible things.
The crazy thing is, it’s just as available to us. The Holy Spirit can guide and lead us individually and collectively just as easily as it did those fortunate souls in Acts
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, NRSV).
The Holy Spirit gives each of us a gift and reveals to us how to use it. It is the giver and the instructor. God wouldn’t leave us hanging. He wouldn’t expect us to figure it out on our own. No, He sends a part of the Trinity, part of Himself, to help us along.
There are many gifts because there are many different kinds of people. If we are all different parts of the body, and we all have different purposes and individual relationships with God, it follows that we would have different gifts. It demonstrates the uniqueness and fairness of God as well as how beautiful and intricate His plans for each of us are.
The Holy Spirit empowers each of us in the same ways through knowing each of us intimately. It gives each of us a gift, the knowledge of how to use it, and the boldness to do so. To be an entity that we avoid, it longs to know us, to aid us in growing and knowing God better. It’s time we start seeing it as such.
By Carrie Prevette