“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” – John 15:26
Lisa Sharon Harper, in her book The Very Good Gospel connects the gospel of Jesus to the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 and highlights the “very good” creation God creates. She shows us that the Hebrew word used for “good” is the word Tov and very good Tov Meod. In a nutshell she suggests that Tov, though it means good, speaks not only of the goodness of the things in creation but of the interconnected and interdependent relationships between them. It is the relationships between creation and not simply the creations themselves that God calls good.
Sin ruins this created connectedness. Sin is the ultimate act and process of relational disconnection in God’s creation and we see this in God’s predictions for creation in the latter part of Genesis 3. Sin creates disconnection among humans, between humans and creation and between humans and God, even within humans individually. Sin’s implications are, just like creation’s, entirely relational.
For most of our church’s history, especially in the eastern church, Jesus has been understood as the “Second Adam (human),” the one sent to restore the relational brokenness of creation and recreate it to its Genesis 1-2 form, where we walk with God and with each other in the “cool of the day.”
Today in John’s gospel Jesus tells us he will send the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, who will testify about him [Jesus]. And this is all well and fine but how will his testimony work toward the relational wholeness broken by sin?
You see, sin has separated us and specifically it has shamed us and we often perpetuate the shame cycle by shaming others. The Imago Dei (image of God) in us is broken so we break it in others and if we don’t do it actively we do it passively – we separate ourselves from one another, because we are not able to see them as they were created to be seen. God said, It is not good (Tov) for [humans] to be alone, and yet this is what sin strives for – isolation is the fruit of a disconnected world.
The testimony of the Holy Spirit, if it does anything, opens our eyes and brings clarity of what is truly present. You see, the Holy Spirit often gets placed on a mantle as a prize we get when we are really close to God, the mysterious and hyper spiritual person of the Trinity which mature Christians get to experience.
Today, what if we saw the Holy Spirit as the one who clarifies our broken images of each other, of ourselves and of God? What if we saw the Holy Spirit as the one who brings clarity by first exposing how distorted we’ve become? What if the testimony of the Holy Spirit was not a hyper spiritual reality but one rooted in our everyday relationships?
Personally, my underlying not good-ness is that I feel, quite often, I am not good enough, which may sound petty to you but it leads me to do a lot of things to become good enough for people and this builds up a lot of resentment toward them for constantly having to prove myself. My narrative of not being good enough is a primary way I separate form relationship. All of this happens mostly in my blindness, subconsciously as I move through my day looking at people and not being able to see them because I think they see me as not being good enough, worthless and below them.
When we read about the Holy Spirit giving testimony for Christ we assume the purpose is to present a case or argument for Christ. This may be true but I think testimonies are not simply to win an argument but to bring clarity where there is confusion of what is true.
As we approach Good Friday what if we opened ourselves to the true-speak of the Holy Spirit, the testimony, the reality of who we are, who others are and who God is? It may not be pretty and it may be painful but it may very well be the way of the cross.
It’s interesting that the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and so on) are entirely relational. This fruit is not the fruit that the Spirit produces in us that we eat in our prayer closet by ourselves. No, this fruit is the fruit of connectedness, health dependance and wholeness which bare their fullness in relationships. This fruit reverses the rotting fruit we began producing in Genesis 3.
Holy Spirit, Jesus said you would come and give testimony to what is really going on in our world. He said you’d lead us into all truth, the fullness of reality, and we ask as we approach the cross that we would see clearly all the ways we are disconnected, separated and broken. Counsel us we pray.