After church this morning, I feel at peace. I’m not sure why. Was it because the service was about peace? But I also heard things that ordinarily push my buttons—such as Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount that I should love people who don’t like me (the Sermon on the Mount pushes my buttons, period), an exhortation to go out into the world to love people and tell them about God (I’m a shy introvert), and maybe even the definition of peace as wholeness and unity (I’ve heard Christians—not at this church, but elsewhere—use the “unity” banner to push group-think and to suppress individuality, dissent, and questions).
But the whole thing about harmony did appeal to me, since I get sick of strife—strife within myself, and strife with others. I don’t feel compelled right now to go to my enemies to try to get them to like me. I don’t want to give them that satisfaction, and, quite frankly, I’m too shy and awkward to do so. I guess I could work myself up with guilt over disobeying Christ’s command to be reconciled with my brother, but what’s the point? Not everyone’s going to like me in this world. And, yes, there are things that I could have done differently in the past. But I see no need to develop a relationship with my enemies. For me, perhaps harmony is letting me be me (even as I try to improve, in some manner), and letting others be them.
I also appreciated the part of the service that emphasized God’s presence everywhere—at school, at work, inside of us. I’m not sure if the pastor was saying that God is in everyone on the face of the earth—I hear that sort of thing in a lot of places. I don’t see it as biblical, since Paul’s point is that believers are the ones with God’s Holy Spirit. But I think it’s consistent with Christianity to believe that we all contain a trace of God, since we’re made in God’s image. I couldn’t tell if the pastor told his puppet, Jake, that we should tell others that God could come into them (implying that God would do so if they accepted Christ), or already was in them.
I prefer the latter myself, even if it’s not biblical. Once you start attaching conditions to God’s indwelling presence, then the question becomes, “Have I truly fulfilled the conditions, and is God really in me? Am I truly believing? Am I truly obeying? And, if God is really in me, why is there so much sin inside of myself—anger, and bitterness, and repulsion at Christian doctrines?” But, if God is in me because he’s in everyone, then God is in me, period—even if I fail to fulfill certain conditions, or if I fall short, or if my mind doesn’t go on an orthodox route.
I agree that it looks like Paul reserves the Spirit’s presence for believers. But I wouldn’t say that a more universal presence of the Spirit is unbiblical. God breathes his ruach into Adam. And Psalm 104:29 and 30 seem to say that anything that is alive, in some sense, has the Spirit.
That’s a good point, Dave.