Friday, September 21, 2007

Sail in the Breath of God

The one thing most essential and yet most feared in revival is the Holy Spirit. People have been misinterpreting the signs and symptoms of his presence from the beginning of the church age. His activity and influence are often seen as excessive, ecstatic, and irrational. I guess I'd be reticent about embracing something causing those reactions too. That's not what's happening in revival, but why is the Holy Spirit's influence often mistakenly perceived as raw emotion or irrational foolishness?

One possible answer is that the Holy Spirit, moving among us, makes God tangibly real. That is a spooky, scary proposition for sinful mankind. It has been since the beginning of the human race. God at walk in the garden wouldn't seem a frightful image, but sin distorts perception and makes us cower in fear away from a very approachable God. Even more frightful is when he shows up at the camp in power. His presence, all too real, is overpowering, so we'd rather let someone else deal with him. We'd rather stay comfortably in the bushes, capable of ignoring him from our lair, able to go on with life unaffected. Religion doesn't seem to make one any less likely to adopt such an approach. The religious always fight revival-- better to classify it as emotional excess, so that it can avoided proscriptively and dismissed if it should sneak past resistance and break out in some quarter.

Another possible answer is the human desire for control. That too has been around since the beginning of sinful humankind. It's not consistent though-- folk will let anything and anyone lead them down the primrose path, as long as it's not God. When we do follow God, we tend to adopt the boxed variety, not the One who can meet us up close and personal and rock our world. Emotions can be difficult to control, that's why big boys (what I was told when young) and big girls (thanks Fergie and Frankie Vale) don't cry. Don't let that tiger out of the bag! Equate revival with emotionalism and the rationale of suppression is turnkey ready.

To step past the cherubim and see God, and walk with him in the garden, we are going to have to humble ourselves and let God be God whatever the consequences. Control is an illusion we have to be disabused of. It only keeps God from being real to us and us from being real with him. What's needed is sensitive men and women, unafraid to sail in the breath of God.