The Holy Spirit: Immanent Transcendence

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In times past the transcendent God above made moves to show his immanence or closeness in the world and to the world. We see this in the creation of the universe (Gen 1:2) and especially in the breathing of the breath of life into Adam’s lifeless body in Gen 2:7 (both expressed as ruach – spirit). We see this at Sinai (Exo 19). We see this in the incarnation (enfleshment) of Jesus where God doesn’t just come close to humanity, rather, He becomes part of humanity (John 1:14). But the place where the transcendent God becomes immanent is most deeply personal and powerful to us today is through the indwelling presence of the Spirit in the lives of believers.

To think that the Holy, exalted God of the heavens would come down and become flesh in the incarnation of Jesus, the Christ, is a difficult thing to begin to comprehend. Just as difficult is the very Spirit of the transcendent God coming and making His home not just with us (as in Immanuel – “God with us”) but in us (and no I don’t know the Hebrew for that!).

When you become a Christian you become a jar of clay with a treasure inside (2 Cor 4:7). Your very existence changes. Your body still faces decay but the deposit for a better, resurrection, future has already been made and placed in you and sealed on you. As Paul would say in Christ you are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). What makes us new creation is similar to what made the old creation – the Spirit of God hovering over the waters. The Spirit of God stirs in us and makes His home in us. I think this is why Jesus said in the Gospel of John that he would depart but send the Spirit and that we would do greater things than Jesus did – because the Spirit is in us empowering us and advocating to the Father on our behalf (Jhn 14:12).

If you are in Christ you are separating yourself from the realm of the flesh and intertwining yourself in the realm of the Spirit. This means everything changes. Your desires change. Your life changes. Your relationships change. Your outlook changes. Even the fruit your life produces changes from what is in line with and consistent with the flesh to what is consistent with the Holy Spirit. What you once counted as most important is now counted as loss and what you once had no regard for now becomes the core of your being.

Praise God for His indescribable gift…the gift of the Holy Spirit! If the church will invest more study, thought, prayer and reliance on the Spirit we will become a more graceful body of believers as well as a group more effective than we have ever been before. It all goes back to recognizing the work that God is doing not just around us, as we often point out, but even inside of us!

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