What was your best and/or favourite subject when you were at school?
For me, it was Geography. Meanwhile, I was only okay(ish) at Mathematics! Plus occasionally there would be something to which I thought, ‘What?’
Imaginary numbers were one such concept. I still remember putting my hand up in a lesson and asking, “If these numbers are imaginary, why are we learning about them?” Perhaps there was something in the tone of my voice but I think the teacher thought I was being sarcastic!
This weekend (31 May) is Pentecost Sunday. Around the world, Christians celebrate the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the first followers of Jesus. It is recorded in the New Testament in chapter two of the book of Acts.
The Holy Spirit – who or what is that? Some force like in Star Wars? Something ethereal more akin to a ghost? (Here older English translations of the Bible didn’t help me as a kid since the words ‘Holy Ghost’ were used. It reminded me more of cartoons like Scooby Doo!)
In Christian doctrine, the Holy Spirit is divine, He is God. He is part of what I know for some, seems a mathematical impossibility: one God, three ‘persons’ – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Trinity is the theological word that is used. (The word ‘person’ here is also a specific theological term different than everyday usage – perhaps this is why some people think Christians worship three Gods!)
Imaginary numbers in Mathematics show up in the real world through their effect in being used in engineering for instance.
I see the reality of the Holy Spirit being shown in a similar way – by His effect in and through people’s lives. For instance, the Holy Spirit stirring a concern for justice and helping the oppressed (look up Isaiah 42:1 and 61:1 – the latter Jesus claimed for his life, see Luke 4).
Let me quote another example:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”.
It’s a challenging list to look at. Take just the first fruit – love. Are Christians viewed as exhibiting that? I suggest if the Holy Spirit is at work, the answer should be a resounding yes!
In many church services across the globe this weekend, including in ICL, these words will be quoted,
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses…” Acts 1:8
The Greek word for power is ‘dunamis’ from which we get dynamite. Power- the ability to get something done.
The Holy Spirit’s power is given to enable – for us to have Christ’s love and the other ‘fruit’ listed in Galatians 5 when it comes to interacting with others. This includes with how we respond on issues that can be divisive in society.
The Holy Spirit’s work in and through us is not limited by so much of our lives having to be online right now. Let’s ask God for a fresh filling of power from the Spirit who is real!
If you have read this and are not sure you would say you are a Christian, I hope something may have sparked your curiosity at least. I encourage you to explore more if it is real or not.
Bible references are taken from the New International Version