graphic website title banner

Are you tuned into the Holy Spirit?

by Chuck Hesse (WordAlone board member, Iowa City, Iowa)

News: March 28, 2008

photo of Chuck HesseHow I can tune into the Holy Spirit has always been an enigma for me.

This all began with my confirmation assignment to write a paper on the Trinity. Things seemed fairly clear as a teenager after many hours of reflection and study. Since then, I have often been perplexed with the suggestion, "Let the Holy Spirit guide you."

This is the charge usually given voting delegates to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America churchwide assembly when the really important issues are up for a vote. I'm sure it is often given as pastoral advice to church members who are trying to solve serious problems. Obviously, not all are in direct communication with the Holy Spirit, as the votes on churchwide issues are usually not unanimous, and parishioners often seem to be heeding ill advice.

Could the Holy Spirit work on opposite sides of the issues, or do some of us think we are listening to the Holy Spirit when we are really listening to one another's interpretations, especially those with whom we agree, or do some of us just not listen? Maybe some church members don't hear so well because they are tuned into the wrong channel. I tried to gain some insight by reading the chapter on the Holy Spirit in George Forell's book entitled, "The Protestant Faith." This clarifies things a bit as it reaffirms the Trinity, and that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one.

We have been given the Word of God through the Bible, and the Holy Spirit speaks to us through that Word. To listen, we simply must read His Word and follow it. We would hope that our church leaders would be reading that same Word and "listening" to that same Holy Spirit in their deliberations and subsequent instructions to voting members. There should be no room for discarding portions of Scripture if we truly believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God.

Forell states that the church "is rather an instrument which God is perfecting." I don't think that this should be misconstrued to mean that the Word of God changes according to cultural or social pressures. As Scripture tells us, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever." We proclaim Jesus as the Word living among us, and Jesus speaking to us from Scripture by the Holy Spirit. That Word is the same yesterday, today and forever, and it is not up to man to alter that Word for his own or the world's pleasure.

May our church leaders see the light and lead from God's Holy Word and not from some newly interpreted "book of the 21st century."