Friday, April 4, 2014

Ready to give the Holy Spirit

One of the lessons I've drawn here and there from various passages in Acts and elsewhere is this: that in his wisdom, unexpectedly, God makes use of our own evil and sinfulness in order to be good to us; and that he is not interested in judgment and destruction so much as in reconciling us to himself, in moving us to repentance and transformation of life.

Another example of precisely this lesson is found in Jesus' teaching at Luke 11.13: If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Jesus' argument is simple enough to understand: you would only give good things to your won children, even though you are evil; how much more willing must God be, then, who is good, to give the Holy Spirit!

But notice the contrast! We are evil, yet we only give good things to our children. Jesus teaches that God in his goodness towards the evil is disposed -- not to judge them, not to destroy them, but to give them the Holy Spirit! He is disposed to take up residence in the heart of the sinner, to transform her and bring her into the communion of the Holy Trinity, if only she would ask.

Because God is good, his disposition towards the sinner is a favorable one: he is disposed to change her identity from sinner to participant in the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All that is required is that the sinner ask -- and in asking, acknowledge sinfulness, acknowledge her own godforsakenness and godlessness independently of the grace of God. When she does this, Jesus teaches that she will receive the Holy Spirit, God himself who will take up residence in her own heart!