God never wrought a miracle to convince atheism, because His ordinary works convince it. – Lord Bacon
The apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, in the first century of the Christian church, giving him some simple instructions that are key in “taking ownership” of one’s spiritual life. Unless Christian individuals pay attention to the condition of their own self-care (spiritually-speaking), the Christian church (the body of believers) will eventually run down and be weakened.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. … give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Do not neglect the gift that is in you…
Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (I Timothy 4:12-16)
While this may seem overwhelming, it’s less onerous than it looks if it is contextualized within the framework of the living Spirit of God. That Spirit is continually at work, as long as we keep maintain our part of the bargain.
According to the promise of Christ before his crucifixion and resurrection, the Spirit (or Helper) would be with us to help us become the kind of people who God had always sought for—people with a heart of flesh, and not stone. God cannot manufacture our will to conform to His, but He can send extraordinary, even miraculous, help by the Spirit when our wills are bent towards Him.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
(“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” – John 7:39
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” – John 15:26)
Imagine this, that Christ, the Son of the Living God and Father, Creator of the universe and beyond, has sent us what He was when He was physically walking the Earth: the Spirit. And imagine, also, that this Spirit is not here to confuse, confound or mystify, but to clarify, and to settle.
Once the Christian understands that Life in the Spirit is ongoing and continual, then, the Christian should come to expect a gradual unfolding of his own originality within a life of being a disciple (not a monk). Indeed, the Christian is to become so intimate with the Spirit, that he will see that there is infinite originality when God made humans-and it crops up over and over in his life.
Chesterton says it better:
“Plato has told you a truth; but Plato is dead. Shakespeare has startled you with an image; but Shakespeare will not startle you with any more. But imagine what it would be to live with such men still living, to know that Plato might break out with an original lecture tomorrow, or that at any moment Shakespeare might shatter everything with a single song. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast.”
- G K Chesterton in Orthodoxy