Outside lots of churches, there is apparently a sign. AUDITIONS! TRY-OUTS! Here, today! Come on in!
But this sign isn’t for just any old role. It reads:
“Holy Spirit Try-Outs”
As Christians, we are called to love God, and love our neighbor. We show that we love God by loving our neighbor. But we have a problem, rampant in our houses of worship; in our denominations; even in our homes…we want to play God.
I think many forget that the Holy Spirit is God. The “quiet” member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. I have experienced it. I am typing this because the Holy Spirit worked in my life. I didn’t want Him to, but He did. I’m experiencing change in my life because of His work.
But we want control, and we want credit. An example…go to any church on any given Sunday. Take a look at what the parishioners are carrying. Perhaps a Bible, but also very likely, a workbook. A small group resource. A study guide. Probably written by a famous preacher or teacher. I’m guilty…I’ve used them and encouraged their use. Even chosen the curriculum. I’m not advocating that we run out and burn all of them, because it’s not the resource that is the issue…it’s what we think about it. Probably “the Holy Spirit gave me this so I can figure things out”.
The problem with this is the “me” and the “I”. I’ve seen bible study and small group material touted as the best thing since sliced bread. In my best attempt at dry humor, some titles I’ve thought about:
“12 Steps to a More Jesus-Like You”
“Policing the Sin Right Out of Your Congregation”
“Heavenly Levels: Get a Better Seat”
Don’t get me wrong. We are human. It is our nature to want to do better, do more, show how good we are. But in doing so, we fail miserably to do the one thing we are called to do. Love our neighbor. We don’t show them love when we show them a self-improvement program. We certainly don’t show them love when we assign ourselves the role of their holy spirit.
I’m probably not the best person to be giving this advice…but loving our neighbor is actually pretty easy. Smile. Make eye contact. Say hello. Show you care. Be honest about who you are. When you do, you might just be surprised that you are just the person that neighbor needs. I’ve seen it time and time again. My Facebook Messenger is full of conversations where someone I barely know reaches out and says thanks for the things I said in a Facebook post, or a blog, or a private message. I cherish these conversations, because they remind me that I am not in control, and I get no credit. The Holy Spirit moves me in directions that I do not understand. Not just don’t understand completely, but I just do not understand at all.