One question that can be rightly asked at St Andrew’s is: Where is the Holy Spirit?
We are a church with, unashamedly, “A Heart for Jesus” and we make much of putting “Jesus front and centre”. Joe recently preached a cracking sermon on why we exalt Jesus Christ as Lord (from Philippians 2:11) here.
But are we in danger of forgetting the Holy Spirit?
Insofar as we are not perfect, yes, of course we are in danger of not worshipping our triune God as we should. But on the flip side, taking a look at the Holy Spirit’s work in the Bible should lead us to be less hasty in our conclusions.
I’ve been fascinated to see, in these past few weeks, what the Holy Spirit is doing in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
The answer is that the Holy Spirit is invisibly at work causing people to rejoice in Jesus, and knitting the church fellowship together with the same love as Jesus has shown us.
Where do we see this?
Firstly, Paul is confident that God will send his Spirit to enable Paul to rejoice in and exalt Jesus Christ – even as the apostle sits in chains in prison (Phil 1:18-20). Similarly, Paul speaks of himself together with the Philippian church as those who rightly worship and boast in Jesus, by God’s Spirit (Phil 3:1-3).
So we don’t look for the Spirit himself. But when we see one another praising Jesus, boasting of him, marvelling at him, rejoicing in him, we praise God that his Spirit is at work.
Similarly, it is the church’s conduct “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” and “having the same love” as Jesus which is evidence of the Spirit’s work (Phil 1:27 and 2:1-2).
So when we see servant-heartedness and unity amongst us instead of selfishness and division, we praise God that his Spirit is at work among us.
And there’s more. One word is translated in three ways in the letter. The gospel “partnership” in the church (1:5), the “common sharing” they have in the Spirit (2:1) and the “participation” Paul has in Jesus’s sufferings are all the same word in the original Greek.
That same word is sometimes translated as “fellowship”. So we might say that the fellowship Christians have with God by His Spirit is seen as our church family or fellowship seeks together to take part in and grow God’s kingdom – even through sufferings.
And yet in all these things, the Holy Spirit himself seems to take a “back seat”, so to speak.
So yes, let’s look out for these signs of the Holy Spirit’s work, let’s ask God for more of his Spirit, and let’s thank God when we see the Spirit’s fingerprints among us.
But most of all, let’s give ourselves to loving one another, rejoicing in Jesus, and partnering in being his gospel-shaped people, and trust God to provide his Spirit’s help as we do.
Much love in Christ,