I took a short detour in my most recent blog series in order to capture the message of Easter. This post will wrap up how we can experience Christ through our senses. The final sense that is left to explore is the sense of touch.
I will never forget the time when my oldest daughter (who was probably two at the time) reached out and touched a manikin’s leg. She immediately jumped back when she realized that what her fingers had just touched was different than what she was expecting. Instead of cold, hard plastic, she felt warm, soft skin. This manikin was a live person, standing so amazingly still, she looked fake. However, the minute my daughter’s sweet, young hand touched the figure, the truth about the manikin was known. After you have felt something, there is no denying what it’s true characteristics are.
Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples, after hearing from some of the others that Jesus was in fact alive, had doubts. That is why he is commonly referred to as Doubting Thomas. Here were his words to his friends: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe,” (John 20:25, ESV).
The text grows interesting in the next few passages:
“Eight days later, his [Jesus’s] disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” (vv. 26-29, ESV).
Jesus understood Thomas’s struggle with believing and met him in the place of unbelief. He allowed Thomas the opportunity to see. Even more, He allowed Thomas the opportunity to touch. Only after Thomas touched Jesus’s wounds did he believe.
So, why is it, that 1,983 years later, people are still actively seeking Jesus? Why is it that 1,983 years later, people are risking their lives to share the gospel with others? Why is it, that 1,983 years later, people are choosing to live, completely abandoned to a God they’ve never seen or touched?
Quite simple: Jesus promised us something and since He is a keeper of every promise He makes, this statement, which Jesus said to His disciples can be trusted: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you,” (John 16:7). After rising from the tomb and appearing to his disciples among others over the course of forty days, He reminded his disciples of the Helper with these words, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight,” (Acts 1:8-9, ESV).
Jesus’s work was done. He made a way for us to live eternally with Him. Now, it was the job of Jesus’s disciples (a.k.a. Christians), to share His redemptive story with their neighbors, communities, and world, with the help, of course, of the Holy Spirit, who goes before us, prepares hearts, and blows down barriers that are in the way so that the gospel can reach everyone.
In preparing for this post, I had a flashback to the movie, Ghost. Towards the end of the movie, Molly Jensen (played by Demi Moore) begins to believe psychic, Oda Mae Brown (played by Whoopie Goldberg), who claims she is able to hear the voice of Sam Wheat (played by Patrick Swayze) who has come back as a ghost to warn Molly of the danger that she is in.
Let me be clear: I don’t believe in people coming back as ghosts and I certainly don’t believe in psychics, however, the scene when Oda Mae Brown offers up her body to be used by Sam’s ghost so that he can dance with Molly one final time may help you understand the Holy Spirit thing a little better. Sam’s ghost enters Oda Mae Brown and Sam takes over. Her extremities are no longer her own, rather used by Sam for his purposes.
The moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit enters us and we are sealed with His presence and power. We are changed. God asks us to be His hands and feet, to go where He calls us to go, to do what He calls us to do, to say what He calls us to say.
In short: The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Col. 1:27). He is living inside us. He has asked to use our bodies on this earth to declare His truth, power, wisdom, love, and might to the world.
If this is the first time you’re hearing this, I realize that it sounds a bit strange. Okay, a lot strange. But true, none the less.
Here is what we know:
It is God “who has put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee,” (2 Cor. 1:22)
The Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,” (Eph. 1:14)
“Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom,” (2 Cor. 3:17)
Everyone is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor. 12).
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses.. . “ (Acts 1:8)
And this we know: When we have given full reign to the Spirit, we will show (Gal. 5:22-23):
- love, when it would be easier to show hate or disgust
- joy, when it would be easier to bask in sorrow and shame
- peace, when it would be easier to quarrel and fight
- patience, when it would be easier to show frustration
- kindness, when it would be easier to show wrath
- goodness, when it would be easier to be wicked
- faithfulness, when it would be easier to give up
- gentleness, when it would be easier to attack
- self-control, when it would be easier to loose it
The Holy Spirit is the same person as Jesus who is the same person as the Father in heaven. Three forms: One person. This God, the One and only God, is not a dictator. He will not force Himself on us and make us scoot over so that He can drive the car through our lives. He wants to though. Not because He is a control-freak, but because He is a good Father who knows what is coming up ahead and knows which roads will lead to death and destruction and which one leads to more and more of Him. That is the road He is waiting for you to travel on, but from the passenger seat. Why? Because the person in the passenger seat is available to look this way and that and enjoy the ride, not having to worry about what is coming up ahead. The driver has got that figured out. And if you, like me, are a passenger-side driver, let me remind us both: He doesn’t need our insight or advise. He is very equipped. Trust Him at every narrow turn, steep slope, and wobbly bridge. You couldn’t be safer.
So today, scoot over a little more. Tomorrow, a little more. The next day, a little more still. Keep scooting over so that there is more room for Him, because after all, He is a Big, Big, God who is waiting to do Big, Big things through us.
Can you feel Him? If not, scoot over more!
P.S. If you are looking for some more insight regarding the Holy Spirit, two bible study resources come to mind:
Believing Jesus by Lisa Harper is excellent! The link I’ve provided includes the DVDs. I enjoyed hearing her speak in addition to the study.
Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore is excellent too! I did this several years ago with a group of women and loved every minute of it.
Gather some girls together and dig in!