Is the world ‘an empty’?

26/05/12 | Posted by Ian Black

The comedian Kevin Bridges recently ventured into the world of faith. He has decided that the world is 'an empty', a home where the parents are away and the teenage party has got out of hand. He ran with this to comedic effect. The idea of people skulking away, saying 'we didn't realise you were coming back', gives a picture of those caught out realising they have been busted. It can certainly feel like we are living in 'an empty' at times.

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This weekend the Christian Church celebrates Pentecost.  This is the day that Christians remember the Holy Spirit being given to the disciples.  The immediate effect seems to have been that frighted men and women, meeting behind locked doors, found the courage and confidence to stand in the market place proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ.  They went from being scared to being prepared to sacrifice their lives as martyrs.  That is a dramatic shift on anyones scale.  The account is retold in Acts chapter 2 in the bible.

The other side of Pentecost is a bit harder to see.  The Holy Spirit is said to guide and inspire, to lead the way of truth and greater understanding.  That there are differences of opinion and conflicts - the role of women, attitudes to sexuality, politics and issues around medical ethics to name just a few - means that this doesn’t lend itself to simplistic claims.  Christians take different stances on these.  However there is a movement over time where hard hearts soften, stances based on delusion and distortion are overtaken.  But the Holy Spirit doesn’t remove our ability to mess things up or take away our responsibility to behave responsibly.  God is not a puppeteer.  The movement of justice is advanced by real people taking brave stances: abolition of slavery, greater emancipation, fairer wages and trade; sometimes at great personal cost. 

So I don’t think the world is a complete ‘empty’.  The parent is not away, but within the world infusing it and guiding it, but not controlling it in a robotic fashion.  The Holy Spirit is God’s presence through everything that happens.  It points to how Christians believe God is active in the world while allowing it tremendous freedom at the same time.  This is the mystery of how we live in God and with God and for God, but are also free to refuse to do so.  We are a mixture of willing obedience, wilful rebellion and unintentional obstruction.  Belief in the Holy Spirit is the Christian assertion that the world is not ‘an empty’ after all.

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It is good to be assured that theHoly Spirit works within us all.
Ben

#1. By ben on June 01, 2012

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