Catching the Wind

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Mark 9:5

Peter’s awkward suggestion to put up three shelters on the mount of transfiguration presents us with a striking metaphor of our human tendency to try and capture the glory of God. It teaches us that God not only reveals himself to us in extraordinary ways at times, but also that we find it exceedingly difficult to deal with such revelations.

The history of the Christian church contains a number of remarkable and exceptional accounts of God’s intervention in human lives and churches. More than one supernatural incident has been reported by eye witnesses of the great revivals of previous centuries, and also by biographers of John Wesley, Andrew Murray and others.

However, church history also records that for every transfiguration a cluster of shelters is left behind. When the glory departs the shelters remain as hollow shrines – grim testimonies of our doomed efforts to prolong divine visitations, or even fabricate them.

These shelters come in many shapes and sizes, and usually differ from denomination to denomination. What they have in common is the underlying assumption that we are responsible to house the Spirit of God somehow, to make him stay with us, to possess and own him. We can try and do so by containing God in our creeds, in the imagery and statues of our buildings, or by scheduling healings and miracles as though God’s power is a magic at our disposal.

Let us remind ourselves that Jesus once likened the work of the Spirit to the wind, blowing when and where it wishes. We can capture God’s sovereign Spirit no more than we can catch the wind.

3 thoughts on “Catching the Wind

  1. Paul Zietsman April 6, 2011 / 9:56 am

    God’s Spirit dwells in temples “not made with hands”. As sson as we try connect the Spirit’s work with brick buildings, we will find empty shelters…
    If the Spirit of God does not work with me where I am, why would He work with me as soon as I go to a specific building, at a specific day, at a specific hour, to listen to a specific man, clothed in specific robes, and paid a specific fee?

  2. naturalchurch April 6, 2011 / 10:28 am

    Paul, you could not have said it better. The nature of the beast is to control, not be controlled. I suspect that this is the reason why we feel so comfortable with a type of religion that allows us to coose the time, place and outfit for God’s visitation, as well as the mode, manner and intensity thereof.

  3. Paul Zietsman April 7, 2011 / 6:42 am

    Everything the flesh does is cast into a pyramid structure or mold. All business models and organisations work like that: CEO on top, then senior managers, then junior managers, then supervisors, then all the plebs. Its like the food chain, or food pyramid. Each level lives in fear of the one above it, and the guy on top is king.

    Jesus said:

    “The kings of the nations exercise lordship over them. And they who exercise authority on them are called benefactors. But you shall not be so: but the greater among you, let him be as the lesser, and he who governs, as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-26)

    In the true church there is no such structure: Christ is the head, the rest are all brethren – (albeit with differing gifts and functions, but never differing status, and no titles).

    We therefore see just two levels:

    1. Christ
    2. all believers

    “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Mat 23:8-13)

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