Word of the Month

The activity of God’s Spirit

November 2009

When Samuel anointed Saul as king, he also told him what the future would hold in store for him. Among other things, Samuel told him: “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them” (cf. 1 Samuel 10: 6). These words were fulfilled when Saul met up with a group of prophets. The Spirit of God took possession of him and, filled with prophetic exuberance, he began to prophesy. The prophet also told him: “And [you will] be turned into another man.” These are thus the effects of the Holy Spirit: enthusiasm and transformation, or becoming an entirely different person.

The enthusiasm generated at the European Youth Day is still fresh in my mind. Many things contributed to this enthusiasm. First of all, everyone was involved and did their share. Beyond that, everyone felt accepted. There were none who remained on the fringes. And finally, everyone wanted to be happy. I wish the same sort of enthusiasm out of the Spirit of God for each and every congregation.

The activity of the Holy Spirit brings about a transformation – to such a degree that one becomes an entirely different person. Our day-to-day affairs place heavy demands on us, but when the Holy Spirit goes to work, a process of transformation begins within us. And then those things that are of eternal substance become central to our lives. In fact, they will come to define our lives. The activity of the Holy Spirit will also prompt us to be a blessing for others. Egoism will begin to subside more and more, giving way to an increasing desire to be there for others. This is a process of transformation. At times we rely on our own strength and think that we can manage on our own. But under the activity of the Holy Spirit, this attitude begins to change: a process of transformation takes place, and we begin to rely increasingly upon God. We might be annoyed at times. That is only too human. But if we give the Holy Spirit room, we set into motion a process which transforms anger into the desire for harmony and a willingness to reconcile. If we are despondent, the Holy Spirit – that great agent of change – instils courage in our souls. All of this is part of the transformation that takes place under the activity of the Holy Spirit. Such changes will occur whenever we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and let the power from above begin to work.

If we permit this process of change to take place within ourselves as described, then we can indeed become an entirely different person. For example, we can become people of peace. Abraham was a man of faith, but also a man of peace. When a dispute arose between his shepherds and the shepherds of Lot on one occasion, Abraham was prepared to resolve the conflict peacefully, even if it meant a certain disadvantage for him. How beautiful when it can be said of us: “This brother is a man of peace. This sister radiates peace!”

This transformation might also cause us to become people who are defined by hope and expectation. Simeon in the temple was such a man. He was waiting for the promised Messiah. Here was a man whose life was defined by the desire to see the Lord. God did not pass him by: Simeon saw the Lord.

Let us also become entirely different people. Let us become people of faith, of peace, and of a strong hope.

Let us therefore give the Holy Spirit more and more room to work so that this change may become visible within us, and so that this process of transformation may make entirely different people of us and ultimately lead us to perfection.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)