Chp 5 of Gracious Christianity by Douglas Jacobsen and Ben Sawatsky is called “The Spirit and Life.” The reality and power of the Holy Spirit cuts like a knife through a Christian faith that transforms and a Christian faith that falls lifeless on its face in the midst of our torrential times. Some are calling this “practicing Pentecost”: the impact of the Spirit renews and reconciles, and some simply prefer old party lines.
First, the Spirit is the source of Life. “Nothing,” the authors claim, “that is part of being human is divorced from the Spirit” (78). In fact, the Spirit sustains and pertains to all of created life. He distinguishes between pantheism (all is God) and God’s Spirit sustaining all. We are caretakers with God of his created world, and this has led many to live a more simple life-sharing life.
Second, yielding to the Spirit. “The Holy Spirit comes to make us more human, more fully alive, and more energetic” (80). “… to enhance our humanity, not to diminish it” (81). To yield to the Spirit is to enter into eternal life.
Third, spiritual maturity. The authors see spiritual maturity as learning by practice to love God and to love others. It is often simple routine living that gives us the opportunity to live in the Spirit. There are no secrets — and I like this because over and over we hear that someone has discovered something that no one has ever said before and it will change our life — hooie! There is nothing new, especially for followers of Jesus: it is the same-old line — love God, love others, live in the Spirit. Why? Because life is living in the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are “gifts given to the world through a person rather than as gifts specifically given to a person” (84). I totally agree! We should not seek which gift we “have” but “what we are doing” and see God’s gifts in that.
Fourth, the cost and joy of discipleship. “Saying yes or not is the way life works” (84). To say yes to the Spirit is to say yes to Jesus — and that means death (they discuss Bonhoeffer here). Saying no to things that work against loving God and loving others enlargen who we are and increase our joy.
They close with Francis of Assisi. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…” (and I’m hearing John Michael Talbot’s version of these words). The words of his prayer express what gracious Christianity and life in the Spirit are all about.