I had another ah-ha from Yancey yesterday that I want to share. He is talking about the Holy Spirit's work in us -- from Romans 8: 26-27. Listen.
"The Spirit announces the good news that we need not figure out exactly how to pray. We need only groan. As I read Paul's words, an image comes to mind of a mother tuning in to her child's wordless cry. I know mothers who can distinguish a cry for food from a cry for attention, an earache cry from a stomachache cry . . . It is the inarticulateness, the very helplessness, of the child that gives her comapassion such intensity."
He continues, "The Greek word applied to the Holy Spirit, Paraclete or paracletos, meant "one who stands by the side," such as an advocate or defense attorney . . . The same Greek word described a kind of cheerleader called upon when an army prepared for a decisive battle. For fearful and intimidated troops, the paracletos made audible a voice of confidence and morale building. We have access to that kind of inner voice, the voice of God himself."
Wow! That brings me such comfort.
He also addresses the Christian community's obsession with the "extraordinary" gifts of the Holy Spirit. I love this.
"We dare not devalue the 'ordinary' -- actually, most extraordinary -- work of God making himself at home in our lives." He then quotes J. I. Packer, who chides the church: "With a perversity as pathetic as it is impoverishing, we have become preoccupied today with the extraordinary, sporadic , non-universal ministries of the Spirit to the neglect of the ordinary, general ones. Thus, we show a great deal more interest in the gifts of healing and tongues -- gifts, which, as Paul pointed out, not all Christians are meant to partake anyway -- than in the Spirit's ordinary work of giving peace, joy, hope, and love, through the shedding aboad in our hearts of konwledge of the love of God."
Boy, I love that. It has been my contention for some time that the Spirit's primary purpose in our lives is to produce fruit. What is the fruit? Well, the fruit is simply a reflection of the Vine. The fruit is Jesus.