Rob's message for July
At the moment, if I asked you if you were enjoying the World Cup, you might well answer, “Which one?” As I write, we are making our way through the group stages of the Women’s football World Cup, and the men’s cricket World Cup, and England are looking good in both of them. If you have been watching either, you will have seen some great individual performances, but in the end it so often comes down to teamwork. By the time you read this, the final will be in sight, and the best team will surely have the best chance of winning the trophy.
Recently I have been thinking about teamwork in connection with the fact that God is revealed in the bible as three as well as one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Pretty much as soon as we get talking about this idea, we begin to struggle to picture it, because it seems almost impossible for our brains to imagine something being 3 and 1 at the same time. All the examples Christians give run out of steam in the end; we might talk about a thing having three parts, like an egg, or someone being experienced in three different ways, like me as a father, a brother, or a son, and so on, but none of them are ever really three and one at once like God is.
That’s why it is so helpful to concentrate on the effect of these three working together, if we can’t quite picture the reality. One of the ways we can do that is to look at some of the places in the bible where it mentions the work of the Father, Son and Spirit all in the same place. We see that in the teaching of Jesus, who tells his friends that he is going to ask the Father to send them the Holy Spirit. That’s Jesus the Son, asking God the Father, to send the Holy Spirit.
I love this one little phrase so much for a few reasons, but most of all because Jesus uses the word ‘will’, which means it is a promise: I will ask the Father, and he will send the Spirit. I hope I don’t often break big promises, but I am conscious of the number of little commitments I make with best intentions and then don’t follow up because I forget, or don’t quite get around to it. Some of you will feel that people have let you down over much bigger things. But this is not my promise, but the promise of Jesus, who is faithful and reliable in every way.
Jesus asks the Father, the Father gives, and the Spirit is the gift. Jesus is consistent in offering the Holy Spirit, and says in another place that the Father will give him if we ask. He will give because he is a good Father, and if we fathers with our failings know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will God our Father give us the good gift of the Holy Spirit if we ask him.
My own experience of the Holy Spirit, especially at some of the hardest times in my life, has been that he is deeply, deeply good, and so I have no hesitation in encouraging people to ask God for him. He is truly the gift of God, of the Father and of the Son, and reveals to us how very wonderful the best of teamwork can be.
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