The encounter which is Spirit to spirit

The process of being born of the Spirit is a profound change and it’s difficult to explain in a logical, rational way — because it is spiritual.

The encounter which is Spirit to spirit
Rainy-day walk
The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit.— John 3:8 NLT

Wind and spirit are the same word in Greek and the double meaning is used powerfully here in a way that takes a little explanation in English. When the wind blows, (there’s a storm passing over at the moment), we DO know what it is and where it comes from.

The wind of the Spirit is a different kind of storm. We ‘hear’ it in a different way and at first we can’t tell where it is coming from.

The process of being born of the Spirit is a profound change and it’s difficult to explain in a logical, rational way — because it is spiritual. We’re used to “following the science” and being persuaded by logical arguments, based on factual assertions which point towards a conclusion. This is not like that. Heaven is not restricted to our logic or what we can understand in a human way.

If we understand ourselves as being spirit, soul and body -- describing three dimensions of mankind which are integrated, but can also be viewed separately -- this is about what happens to the spiritual person.

When we go for a check with the GP, the doctor looks up as we walk into the consulting room, sees a physical person and makes a snap assessment: height, BMI, mobility and other physical signs. Questions draw this out, and this is the ‘window’ for assessing and treating physical symptoms. So that’s where the advice (modify diet, more exercise!) and perhaps a prescription are directed.

But what happens if we are referred referred to the psychologist down the corridor. The picture they form goes beyond the physical person, by looking through the soul ’window’ of how emotions, feelings and thought-life are operating. A heightened emotional state leads to anxiety, a negative spiral of thoughts leads to helplessness and depression, an overworking imagination may lead to irrational or even dangerous behaviour, and so on. The psychologist helps by addressing these aspects of life. There may be simple habits to learn which make a difference to an unhelpful thought pattern and how it affects health generally.

These two professionals have both offered help, but they may not have much insight as to the root of my difficulty. To a greater or lesser extent, they will be treating and managing symptoms, while the underlying causes remain undiscovered and unaddressed. So next we go to see a trusted church leader, an experienced pastor, for some further discussion leading to prayer ministry.

We don’t want a church service or a sermon or the denomination’s view on racial injustice. What’s needed here is the discernment of a Spirit-filled shepherd, to pray and seek the wisdom of the Spirit and what He will reveal. This is not detached from the physical person’s pain, or the soul person’s anxiety, but it focuses on the spirit-person.

A word of explanation: just as doctors come with different areas of expertise, so church leaders represent five main kinds of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13): the initiators and planters, the proclaimers, the ones especially gifted at leading people to Jesus, the shepherds that we mentioned, and the explainers. (By the way, you won’t find priests mentioned in the NT church — that was something added in centuries later, after the church began to adopt the prevailing Roman culture.)

Shepherds, or pastors, are the ones with the most interpersonal gifts, and probably some others as well. But they understand how the spirit part of us affects all the other parts.

So the pastor begins by exploring the vital relationship with Jesus — it’s vital we are truly born again and that’s something to revisit. Have we let the relationship slide? Are there any issues that need to put right with God? At this point, the pastor is inspired to ask a rather specific question and it brings to the surface something long-buried, a difficult relationship in the past , with some some hurts resulting from that. What are we commanded to do? Forgive! So, the pastor probes gently, have we forgiven that person without condition, without any response or change from them? Yes, we often find this difficult. But here’s the thing: if we are not willing to forgive them , then we are treating them differently to the way God, in His grace, treats us! This now present a difficult prayer to pray -- and its good to have someone to coach you rather than stuttering to a halt. A pastor’s encouragement helps to make the tough choice, and right choice, to let the hurt go, to forgive and let God do the judging.

And the transformation — where did that come from? — it’s like walking out as a a new person.

What happened exactly? What was in the wind of the Spirit that brought such transformation? We can understand the help of the GP and the psychiatrist, and we can explain what happened and what their part did for us, physically and emotionally. But it’s hard to put a finger on this third approach — because it is spiritual.

“...The Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!” — John 3:8 TPT