No Junior Partner
Months ago, during a personal upheaval, I began thinking about the national battle with fear, anxiety, depression, confusion, and low level of clarity. More important, I began to ask how my love, joy, peace could be more active, and thinking habits could be redeemed and modified. Not too far into the journey, Holy Spirit became an obvious and direct participant. I aimed at making the “how” to be the concluding chapter in this series of “Mending the Mind. I want to know how Holy Spirit desires to be active and healing in individuals—you and me.
Whenever I open this file, my mind goes to a brick storefront in downtown Des Moines. It is raining. A lady stands under the store’s canvas awning and her own umbrella. She is waiting for a counselor/friend. Her friend’s name is Paraclete.
Her friend arrives and they step inside the coffee shop. The two slip out of rain gear and then hug. After ordering their favorite coffee, Paraclete says, “I get the message that you have questions.”
“Thank you for seeing me. My whole life feels destabilized, harassed, anxious, stressed, in fear, depressed. I want to know why I am floating in these debilitating thoughts. Where did they come from and how do I change?”
The word “paraclete” comes from the Greek word parakletos, which means “Comforter” or “Counselor” or “one called to the side of another.” Paraclete is Holy Spirit and is known to have several roles and functions in His relationship to Jesus Followers.
Apostle John records The Promise Jesus gave first to His disciples and then to His entire family.
“I will talk to the Father and he’ll provide you another friend so that you will always have someone with you” (John 14:16 Message).
Allow my fiction: What if you were in that Walnut Street coffee shop and you saw the lady and Holy Spirit walk in, what is the paraclete wearing? Holy Spirit is not only a name, but description of His being. He is a spirit. That means He would have to take on human features. Would He be wearing camouflage—large, dark aviator glasses and a hoodie? Would He greet others in the shop as if He knew them? No disguise, just not totally describable. Perhaps, when you looked at their table you saw only the lady talking across the table toward any empty chair—she alone could “see” the Friend?
I want to be careful and respectful here. We are cautioned not to make images and idols of Yahweh and the Spirit. While honoring, how will you enter conversation with Holy Spirit without feeling as if you are talking to the air or a non-entity? He is not just one more of your invisible friends.
The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, (John 14:26 Message).
Paraclete is translated, Advocate, Counselor, Helper, Friend, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby, Companion.
“Paraclete, the Greek word Jesus used here, referred to a person who came alongside during a time of legal difficulty.” (Google)
No matter our experience, theology, or dogma about Holy Spirit, we probably are underestimating His role in all things cosmic and eternal including and especially Holy Spirit as a personal life resource.
I can imagine Holy Spirit meeting with world leaders at the Hague or the White House. I can visualize a meeting with Israel and the Palestinians to hammer out a peace agreement. It stretches my imagination, however, to think of Holy Spirit with me in a coffee shop or in my office to redesign my mind. The work to be done in us depends upon faith to engage in a life-changing conversation as if He were sitting across the table. In this case, faith is expressed by a sanctified imagination. (“Jesus, I open my mind to your examination and yours alone. No dark spirit, or negative personal conclusions are allowed.”)
Jesus promised Holy Spirit and listed His activities. The Apostle records them in John 14-16. This scenario becomes believable and probable as Jesus uses the words, “Friend,” and “Helper.” The descriptive action of Holy Spirit is, “Coming alongside.” Holy Spirit never says, “I’ll just meet you at the church house.” His assignment and desire are to come alongside us, in the dark hours, in the storms and when we are making decisions. Friends laugh together! Holy Spirit is more than an office worker and an agent. He has feminine characteristics, but the Bible refers to Him as a “he.” Although a spirit, He has personality characteristics. Not an “it.” I think He enjoys laughing and smiling.
Jesus promised paraclete to individuals as well as to the ekklesia and nations. The Old Testament stories are about The Spirit coming upon individuals such as Samson, military leaders, prophets. The New Testament reveals a new covenant era when Holy Spirit enters individuals—all persons following Jesus. We are still in that covenant era.
Jesus (John 14-16) uses paraclete as a descriptive name for Holy Spirit: Friend, Helper, Comforter, Coach, Advocate, Companion. We also know Him as the agent of creation, baptizer with power-anointing, and above all else He is Jesus’ announcer—“He will not speak of himself…” (John 16:13).
Theologian, missionary and author Rick Renner lists the major ways Holy Spirit works within us and how He desires to intersect with each Jesus’ Follower:
- Holy Spirit comforts us (John 14:16).
- Holy Spirit indwells (John 14:17).
- Holy Spirit teaches us (John 14:26).
- Holy Spirit reminds us (John 14:26).
- Holy Spirit testifies with us (John 15:26).
- Holy Spirit convicts us (John 15:9).
- Holy Spirit convinces us (John 16:10).
- Holy Spirit guides us (John 16:13).
- Holy Spirit reveals to us (John 16:13).
- Holy Spirit helps us worship (John 16:14).
Jesus’ use of the word Friend is a filter and explanation. I don’t understand the logistics of Holy Spirit coming alongside both you and me at the same time, plus multiples of millions. How does He do that? Does He outsource those tasks to subordinates or angels? A true friend does not delegate the elements of friendship to a subordinate.
Perhaps you are not like me. I tend to think of Holy Spirit as being like “The Cloud” that mysterious place where documents are stored. I don’t see them going there, I do not experience how they are stored—it is just there like a mysterious hidden place. The Spirit does not live in The Cloud with all your Word documents, nor does He live in the clouds. He lives inside us and desires to interact with us through our spirits. He does not Message us from some Cloud-like dwelling.
If we can believe and experience that Holy Spirit is not limited to “the nations” (The Hague, White House, Kremlin, ect.) but works and lives in people like you, then we still have a hurdle which Jesus speaks to: Holy Spirit is a friend—an intimate friend who knows the most personal ingredients in body, soul, spirit and is our largest cheerleader and companion. So, what does He do while He is hanging out in us? Rick Renner’s above list of ten is how Jesus projects activity. For me, I first must believe in the fact of His friendship and grasp the creative kind of friend He is. He is not theoretical. He is not far removed from me.
Holy Spirit—however He does it—comes alongside when we invite Him during anxiety attacks, depression, panic attacks, loneliness, burnout, toxic imagination, unrealistic expectations, and as we sift through memories and quick trigger reactions and assumptions. He is the Creator and re-creator which expands the image of transforming us into new.
We are told to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” Let’s tweak our perception and think “Redesigning our mind.” That is how radical brain specialists are about brain neuroplasticity.
Months into this pursuit, two conversations have convinced me I’m not chasing weirdness. David Sax, author of The Future is Analogue, was interviewed on Art of Manliness. https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/behavior/podcast-851-the-future-is-analog/ Rather than life and society becoming more digital and limited emotional contact, the Pandemic Shutdown showed us we depend upon touch and interaction with our spaces and people. Creativity dropped, as did productivity during the shutdowns. These are dependent upon conscious interaction and serendipitous sightings, and hearings. Isolation walls creativity away from synergistic possibilities. Creativity depends upon interaction.
The second conversation was Elon Musk talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) being more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Anything that dilutes or interrupts human must be regulated. He issues warnings about the merging AI into the human cortex and limbic system with no oversight or regulation—AI could kill 90% of us in a short time, Musk warns.
Jesus became human. We do not need to augment humans and diminishing him/her. (We may be seeing exactly that through 21st Century technology.) The Gospel and Kingdom calls us to immerse ourselves in the qualities of humanity. Secularists are pushing a post-human creature as the Gospel declares the Jesus life as our destiny. This is not a new dimension of Tinker Toys. I’m seeking Holy Spirit resources to make me as whole as Jesus.
The secret is this: Christ in you, hope of glory, (Colossians 1:26 KJV).
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. The mystery (secret) in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you…, (Colossians 1:26 Message).
©2022 D. Dean Benton–Writer, Wonderer,
Next: Holy Spirit our Advocate—Counselor
Rick Renner, The Holy Spirit and You, Harrison House, 2017