By Holly Culhane
As I’ve worked my way through Dan Wilt’s devotional, Receive the Holy Spirit, I’ve become more and more convinced that I am too frequently guilty of reading God’s Word far more quickly than He intended. Over time, I have become persuaded that as a shepherd-in-training, I must look at each word of each text I consider more carefully, asking questions as I seek to understand what the Father is communicating, and seeking more diligently to understand how it applies directly to me. John 15:26 is an example.
But I [Jesus] will send you the Advocate — the Spirit of truth.
He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.
During a discourse that began during what has become known as the Last Supper, Jesus tells the disciples – and, by extension, us – that He will send the Spirit to them, and that it will come from the Father. Not only will the Spirit be sent, but The Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, will testify about Jesus.
I’ve read that passage many times. I believe it. And I thought I understood it.
But I had not considered what Wilt shares in his devotional about this verse: that “the Spirit comes to us from the very heart – the loving essential nature – of the Father.” And that, “when someone or something is sent, there is always an intended recipient.” What a great reminder! How wonderful it is that in this case, the intended recipient is ME… and it’s YOU, if you follow Jesus.
Just as nutrients move out of the vine to a branch, the Spirit comes to us when we become connected to Jesus and desire to follow Him. Why? So, the Spirit will testify to us about Jesus, revealing more and more about His nature and character to us.
Wilt goes on to point out that when we remain or abide in Him, as Jesus said to the disciples earlier in this chapter, as we are pruned and fruit is produced, “the Spirit anchors, establishes, and settles us, and He clarifies for us what it means to remain in the love of Jesus, remain in the love of the Father, and remain in the love of one another.”
In other words, as Wilt reminds us, we need the Spirit to keep us on track. As Jesus told the Jewish people who believed in Him (John 8), He is the Truth that sets us free. And He sets us free not just from sin and death, but He sets us free – through the Spirit and our connection to Him – on a daily basis from our broken thinking and our broken feelings.
Finally, as Wilt emphasizes, “the Spirit all along the way will continue to reveal Jesus. If Jesus is hidden, obscured, mocked, or diminished, the Spirit is not behind it.”
In Wilt’s words, in such a case, shake it off!
Yes, shake it off, fellow under-shepherd!
Call on the Spirit to help you think more clearly, see more plainly, and dwell with Him more fully, understanding where you, by your own desires, self-centeredness, or self-righteousness, are obscuring, mocking, or diminishing the Jesus within you.
“The Holy Spirit reveals Who Jesus is, what He is for, and why He does what He does. The Spirit helps us understand the reasons behind the hard work of transformation going on in our lives. The Spirit keeps us living in union, in abiding love, in Jesus.”
And that’s right where He is supposed to be, guiding us, advocating for us, exposing the darkness within us, and assuring we see what is within us that is not of Him.
As the under-shepherds of His flock, let’s commit to shaking off more quickly and more frequently the moments and thoughts and feelings that so often hide, obscure, mock, or diminish Jesus. Instead, in those moments, let us call directly upon the Spirit of Truth to arise within us and allow us to access the strength and character necessary to “remain in the love of Jesus, remain in the love of the Father, and remain in the love of one another.”