I’ve always been fascinated by black holes, which NASA’s website describes as “a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out.” Imagine an object with a gravitational field so intense that no light, matter, or radiation can escape its pull. Black holes are invisible to human eyes, but space telescopes with special tools can help us find black holes.
People will sometimes use black holes as a metaphor for a task that will monopolize all of one’s time, energy, or money. One political pundit described Washington as “a black hole into which all sanity is sucked out of government deliberations.” As a basketball player, I’ve sometimes compared a teammate who’s a ball hog with a black hole: “like light, passes go in but they never come back.”
Last week, we began a series called “Living in the Power of the Spirit.” We talked about the transformation that the Holy Spirit brings about in our lives as we cooperate, following the Spirit’s lead and embracing the Spirit’s enlivening impulses within us. We can see this internal transformation as the fruit of the Spirit develops in us (things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
However, it would be hugely misleading if I gave the impression that the Spirit is solely for our inner transformation, as if God’s Spirit living in us has no greater purpose than to make us perfect little Jesus mannequins. Our inner spiritual life is not the focal point or end goal of the Holy Spirit’s work, though God certainly might begin there. God has bigger purposes than to make us into nice people (though that’s not a bad start!).
God’s Spirit in us is intended to lead us out into a world that is hurting, broken, and lost without God. Followers of Jesus are called to be people on a mission, in the world, for the sake of God’s Kingdom. What does this look like? We can tell the Spirit is working in us when we begin to use our spiritual gifts to build others up, when our service to others is increasing, when we share with others what God has done for us, when we are emboldened to share the Good News in the face of rejection, when we “turn the other cheek” or “go the extra mile,” when we give generously, when we welcome the unwelcome, and when we love those who are not easy to love.
The Holy Spirit isn’t simply interested in giving you a spiritual makeover. Our lives are not some spiritual black hole into which the Spirit enters but never comes out. Rather, the Spirit enters into us and transforms us in such a way that we go and live lives that honor God. May we radiantly respond as the Holy Spirit leads us out into the world for a life of service to others and bearing witness to the goodness of God in Christ Jesus.
Love in Christ,
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