“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 12:8, 13)
“The Spirit of God is not only a power that existentially affects human beings, bringing them into a universal community. The Spirit affects not only forms of the experience of God and forms of the exchange of experiences. The Spirit affects not only powers that make it possible for human beings to strengthen each other in body and soul. The Spirit also effects conditions of the psyche and the community, conditions that Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit.” (Micheal Welker in God The Spirit)
It is through the Power of the Spirit that God brings about the reality of the world he has been working toward since the beginning of time. It is through the Power of the Spirit that God raises up leaders (Judges, Kings, Prophets, Priests) to remind the people of their common heritage in God and to challenge them to renew relationship with their maker. It is through the Power of the Spirit, and through the bearer of that Spirit, that God’s will is brought about on this earth; a will where justice, and mercy, and a knowledge of God are the cornerstones of a Kingdom of Priests. It is through the Power of the Spirit that various nationalities and groups of people (old and young, male and female, privileged and non-privileged) are brought together into one community not to become identical but in their diversity to point to a God who welcomes all to his banquet table. And it is through the Power of the Spirit that we as individuals are transformed from selfish narcissists who care only about ourselves and pleasing ourselves and gladly take and eat of the fruit of the tree because we want to be God, into people who are defined by such characteristics as love and joy and peace…. That’s the Power of the Spirit, the Power that God uses to transform the world one Christian at a time.
In Galatians 5 Paul describes two ways to live: by the Spirit or by the sinful nature. The sinful nature is characterized by all of the worst sins imaginable; sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, fits of rage, jealousy, selfish ambition, while the life by the Spirit is characterized by traits of love and joy and peace. The sinful nature thinks only about oneself while life in the Spirit thinks of others and places others first. The sinful nature wants to put self on the throne, life in the Spirit puts God on the throne and allows his ideals to transform the individual from the inside out. What the Spirit does for the believer is it goes inside and slowly, methodically, sanctifies those hard to reach places and allows the believer to become a Christian, one who bears the name of Christ not only in name, but in action. It allows the Christian to become one like Christ who places others about oneself, who serves instead of being served, who gives with no thought of getting in return, who loves with a Godly love that only comes from God.
It is through the Power of the Spirit, slowly transforming believers into those who are characterized by the love of God that allows all of these blessings of the Spirit to be realized in the world. The community that is brought about at Pentecost, a community in which old and young, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile are brought together into one family is only made possible by believers being transformed by the Spirit into people who love. The only way that racism and sexism can be overcome is through believers being transformed to love as God loves. The only way that true justice and mercy can be brought to the world is through believers being transformed to love as God loves. The only way that the world will ever learn to love and not hate, to serve and not be served, to give freely and equally so that all have enough, to not oppress the weak, or the orphan, or the alien, to see all people as one and equal is for the Power of the Spirit to so transform our hearts. The Spirit must transform us so that the love of God seeps out of every pore of our being and we become living breathing representations of God and his love everywhere we go and allow him to change the world through us.
It’s a high calling, but the difficult part is not transforming the world, the difficult part is allowing the Spirit to transform our hearts to be people who love. Once that happens, changing the world will be easy.
Editors Note: This is part 6 of 6 in a series on the Holy Spirit. The series is not meant to be exhaustive but to serve as a starting point for a fuller understanding of the role of the Spirit in the life of the believer and of the world.