Anyone who has ever tried wrapping their minds around the role of the Holy Spirit has had a least a few blank stares. I mean, be honest, it’s a bit of a mystery. But John 15 really helps… and do you know what helps even more… group discussion. Hold that thought…
Ever prayed for God’s nearness and wondered doubtfully if he was even there? Ever asked for him to come near in hopes he was kind? Hoped to demonstrate character that was hard to hold onto? I think sometimes in our most desperate moments we beg for him to be close, hope he’s good, plead for his mercy, we even try to “abide” like we are told, and think that somehow his nearness hinges on us. Like we qualify ourselves somehow. But it doesn’t. Thank the Lord, it doesn’t! Every good thing that pours out of us is made possible by abiding in him, and even the act of abiding is his goodness towards us.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” — John 15:4
Recently, in a study on John 15, we discussed how there’s the Gardener (God), the Vine (Jesus), the Branches (us), and then we considered the vascular system of the whole living plant.
One woman spoke up and talked about sunflowers, and how they would actually turn their faces towards the sun, prompted and empowered to move towards light by the vascular system of the plant. And my heart exploded. Because this empowering guidance by the Holy Spirit does the same thing with us. He is integral to our ability to abide in a life with our Lord, because even when we are facing the wrong way, he enables us to move in the right direction. The nutrients of life found in the truth that he presses into the fibers of our hearts are not randomly discovered, but purposefully whispers and watered… it is why it is accurate to say that he dwells within us. In our most desperate moments we could no sooner escape the presence of the Holy Spirit than we could stop the flow of blood in our veins without dying.
And then there is this: the human body has enough veins that, if stretched out in a line, would reach about 60,000 miles. They are required for the flow of blood and oxygen, and if they were suddenly absent from our bodies, we would be no longer living. So as the veins contribute to our living life, so does the Holy Spirit contribute to our ability to abide in relationship with the God who created us. Without him, we can do nothing. No part of our bodies would function without the oxygen brought by our veins, and no part of our lives the Holy Spirit isn’t present within, nourishing, pouring out life into.
And in this vascular indwelling there comes some distinctions.
Peace that surpasses understanding.
Unalterable, unshakable, and unparalleled joy.
The Value of People.
An eternal lens.
I think, maybe, we are all aching for this to be true. Ask yourself this question: If this were true, would I take hold of it?
Let’s offer up our hearts to a God, who is not just worthy of our surrender (because that would frankly be enough, right?), but one who literally dwells within us… and one who is also good.