The Winds of the Spirit

I had the privilege of sitting in a consultation with Bishop NT Wright a couple of weeks ago (see former posts for some of the great quotes). Looking back it is clear that one line of his stuck with me more than any other.  It reminded me the power of words, for what he said was something I already believed, but framed in this way made it seem even more powerful.

Bishop Wright has published a lot of material around the Resurrection lately, and he summarized the meaning of Easter weekend in this one sentence:

“Jesus has risen, is in charge, and the energy of Heaven has been set loose.”

I love that!  I believe every part of that sentence.  I believe Jesus has risen, and that our past and future is changed because of that.  I believe Jesus is in charge, and is calling every one of us to surrender our lives to him.  And I believe the Bishop is right – that the Resurrection means that the energy of Heaven has been set loose!

The image has gripped me, and we are exploring it right now at River City.

The first association I thought of when I heard the phrase “the energy of Heaven” was an image that Jesus used in John 3.  When talking to Nicodemus, this is how he described the mysterious ways of the Spirit of God:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3.7-8)

The energy of Heaven.  The winds of the Spirit.  Those are wonderful images, aren’t they?

Why does Jesus use the metaphor of wind to describe the movement of the Spirit of God?  It is an important one – when the Spirit of Heaven came upon the believers at the beginning of the book of Acts (think energy of Heaven) Luke says the Spirit came like a mighty wind.

I don’t know all the reasons that Jesus used this metaphor, though I think it is worth reflecting on some of the many reasons.  Here are just a handful of correlations between wind and the Spirit:

  • The wind is mysterious. If you are writing a movie and want to create a mysterious environment, you have the wind howling.  (My favorite time is right before a storm for this very reason.) Reminds us there is a power and mystery to how God works in each person’s life…
  • The wind is of supernatural origin. This is one of the things that makes us humans feel so powerless.  Despite all of our technology, we can’t create a windstorm, nor can we control it.  Its origins are supernatural.  All we can do is detect it and watch its movement. The same is true in the spiritual realm.  You can’t decide to become spiritually transformed.  The power comes from outside.  You can only be changed by an external source.
  • The wind can’t be seen, but the effects of the wind can be seen.  This is true for every level of wind.  We cannot see a gentle breeze, yet we see the birds use that breeze to fly.  We cannot see a moderate wind, yet we can see the sailboats being powered by it.  We cannot see a strong wind, yet we see the damage when a hurricane comes through.  So it should be for us.  If the Spirit is moving in our individual life, there should be clear signs.  Our character and actions should look different.  And if the Spirit is moving in our corporate life, then it should look as if the energy of Heaven has indeed been set loose.

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