Every now and then, I wonder what Christianity looks like from the outside. There's persistent talk of spirits, incarnation, miracles, and eternity among Christians, and rightfully so. If I believe a man's death on a Roman cross thousands of years ago has supernatural benefits on my life today, surely I should be open to the reality of the spiritual, unseen world. But, for some reason, it's not always easy to believe.
Shouldn't I, someone writing for the past three days about my faith in God, automatically live in a spiritual reality? Well, not necessarily, or at least consciously. Head knowledge is quite different from practical faith. I do believe in God, Jesus, and the seemingly bizarre stories written about them. But without hands-on, tactile application, these tales of God's miraculous participation with humanity might as well be fables and interesting bedtime stories.
Christianity is impossible to accept if only looking at the visible world. I wonder what my life would look like if I actually believed in what I could not see?
Like I mentioned in my previous posts, the framework of invisible, spiritual realities is called revelation. Without revelation, I cannot hope to grasp incomprehensible truth, even if can feel, hear, or taste it. I need an interpreter, Someone who is both in this world and the "other" world at the same time.
In our modern society, ghosts are thought to be unstable bridges between what is seen and what is not seen. They are characterized as lost and wandering personalities, sometimes with malicious, or at least unfinished, business to accomplish. Imagine how confusing it can be when well-intended Christians talk about the importance of knowing the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit. In most circles, reference to a ghost as holy is oxymoronic.
Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead; so, are Jesus and Casper the same type of ghost?
I've gathered three comparisons between modern-day conceptions of ghosts versus Biblical teaching of who the Holy Spirit is. These have not only shaped my relationship with the Holy Ghost/Spirit, but deepened my ability to passionately share it with others.
1. Alive or Dead
Jesus is not a ghost, or at least not the kind we see in Hollywood movies. His body is not in a grave separate from His Spirit and Person. We as Christians believe Jesus was fully resurrected and glorified and is alive forever. He is not trapped between this world and the next, but securely seated in ultimate authority and power.
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! (Luke 24:5-6a)
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)
2. Holy or Haunted
Jesus sent His Spirit (person, character, activator) to humanity not to haunt us but to make us holy. Just like Jesus was able to live here on the earth as a holy ambassador of faith, hope, and love, so we now as God's children, can be holy like our Father.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
3. Empowered or Possessed
Instead of forcing His way into our decisions and will, Jesus invites us to experience power and freedom through His Spirit. While we are God's possession, we are not possessed by God (as compared to demonic bullying). By receiving the Spirit (the character, mind, and intentions) of Jesus, we share in His power and authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere . . . (Acts 1:8)