12 :1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
To the Clouds Photography by Catherine Branyan Elias
So the one Spirit is the reason one can claim "Jesus is Lord?" In other words, the Spirit is how God gets it done - it in that sentence is faith. And so am I right then to wonder about those to whom the Spirit has not yet gifted with faith? If it's a gift and not something I can muster on my own, can I really judge another who has a hard time believing in the existence of God, or the importance of Jesus? In other words how much of membership in the Body of Christ is our own doing? How much is the Spirit's doing? Don't look now, but it seems this passage says it's all about the Spirit.
Western Christian orthodoxy says that the Spirit "proceeds" from the Son. We don't have the Spirit except for the Son giving her to us... or leaving so that God could give her to us. But here it seems that it is the Spirit who gives us faith in the son, or recognition of the son, or understanding of the son.
Eastern Christian orthodoxy lacks the filioque clause, "proceeds from the Son." In Eastern Christian orthodoxy, the Spirit proceeds from the Father; the Spirit acts in the world without the interaction of Jesus/son. Does that then mean that the Spirit is out there doing things that are not connected to Jesus? Does that mean that God is doing things, that God is working outside of the Christian sense of how God works: through Jesus Christ, our Savior?
I've always found it useful to remind myself that my Eastern orthodox brothers and sisters are just that... brothers and sisters. That the Christian church is vast in its expression of God and this key passage from the apostle Paul, spoken to first century Christians who had shed pieces of their former religious selves were learning to trust the One Spirit. How am I learning to trust the one Spirit, even (or especially) when she works outside the realm that I expect her to?
The photo that we've chosen this week reminds me of the mysterious nature of the Trinity - three entities, three persons, three reflections. You may purchase this photo for use in worship or for use in your bulletin directly HERE.
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