A Place to Listen to Our Lives and the Spirit

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From the very beginning of God’s Word, we discover an incredible truth. In Genesis 1:26-27, we read:

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God created us “in our image, according to our likeness” (author’s emphasis). This “our” is the first allusion to the Trinity. In the first book and the first chapter of the Bible, God reveals himself as expressed uniquely in community, consisting of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (as the Scriptures later reveal). The fact that God created us in God’s image means that we, too, are designed to be in community.

We can infer that because we are made in the image and likeness of God, God planted something in us that recognizes and yearns for a relationship with God. Being made in the image and likeness of God also means that we are created to be in community, as God was in community. This is our nature. This is not a choice; our very substance yearns to connect to the Trinity and to others. We are designed to reflect something of the nature of God. We are designed to be together in life and mission.

Called to Community

Community isn’t some general instinct calling us to live life in proximity. It is a basic life-force which drives us to feel complete only when we are in community. We yearn for attachment with others. We want to know and be known. Anyone has the potential to be a partner in spiritual relationship with God and human relationships with each other. It can be realized in the marital relationship or in close friendships (such as that between Paul and Timothy, or David and Jonathan, or Ruth and Naomi), but any relationship that reflect this kind of mutual support and closeness gets at this inherent need for our flourishing.

Being made in the image and likeness of God also means that we are created to be in community, as God was in community. This is our nature.

Jesus, for example, surrounded himself with disciples and called them friends. From that fundamental unit, the desire for community expands. Any time that we purpose together, whether to create a family, plant a church, or make disciples, God intends us to do it together. One of the great lies of Satan is that we can do it alone. The great lie is that we don’t need God or each other. The serpent tempted Eve and Adam to go it alone without God and without a conversation with each other. She took and ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam, who took and ate. They did not consider their choice together. The most fundamental chasm among humanity was isolating us one from the other. The outcome of this choice was a loss of partnership.

Some of God’s leaders are convinced that they alone must be about God’s work, that they alone need to be at the top. Some do not see others as partners but rather as workers to accomplish the leader’s mission. When Jesus came, he refuted this deception. He lived his life in community with God the Father and the Spirit. He lived his life in community with the disciples and others who followed him. He went to the cross to break the power of the lie meant to separate us from the love of the Father and from our community.

The power of the Resurrection is a renewed vision of God’s Kingdom in partnership with God’s purposes—experienced together on the journey. God intends us to be in supportive communities. In those communities, we reflect the very image of God more clearly. In this book, we are proposing that Mentoring Communities can provide those opportunities for Christian ministers and influencers to be in supportive communities.

Connected to the Holy Spirit

Not only are we created in the image of God and created to be in community, not only are we commissioned by Jesus to “Go and make disciples” and to abide in him, we are also given the Holy Spirit as a companion and strengthener for this journey. Jesus said he would not leave us as orphans; the Holy Spirit would come as our advocate (John 14:18). We have the Holy Spirit, who is in us, beside us, and among us. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit at his Last Supper (John 16:5-11), and the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus and then poured out at Pentecost.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Acts 2:4

The Holy Spirit is a real, active part of the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit is here now. The Holy Spirit is not a magical, spiritual being who came to earth for a few short years after Pentecost but a member of God’s Trinity, sent to be God’s presence for all believers. The Holy Spirit was given to believers for guidance, truth discerning, holiness living, healing, and prayer. At his final meal, with his friends, Jesus spoke about the purpose of the Spirit in John:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

John 14:15-17

In the first sentence, Jesus is referring to the core commandment to “Love the Lord your God . . . and [love] your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). One way that we love God and our neighbor is through the secondary commands of “Go and make disciples” and “Abide.” First, we choose to obey. When we choose to follow our Lord and Savior and do what he is calling us to do, then the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, is available to us. The Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers, and when the Holy Spirit is active in us, we see what the world does not see and know what the world does not know.

The Holy Spirit is not a magical, spiritual being who came to earth for a few short years after Pentecost but a member of God’s Trinity, sent to be God’s presence for all believers.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will not come and go but is with us forever. The “with you” refers to the Spirit being among us. When we are together, the Holy Spirit is especially expressed as present all around us (Matthew 18:20). Jesus says we know the Holy Spirit because he abides with us and is in us.

The word for abide is the same that Jesus uses when he commands us to abide in him. Therefore, the same nonbusy posture is required to know and see the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is quietly “with you,” meaning right beside you. The Holy Spirit is “in you,” making residence in the core of your being in the same way that Jesus is “in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), the great mystery of faith.

In Romans we read:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27,

From these verses, it is clear that the Holy Spirit knows us intimately. The Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses. These are weaknesses of every kind—physical, emotional, relational, mental, and spiritual. The Holy Spirit can help us, which means “to rescue,” as if we were being pulled out of the deep waters as we were drowning. Sometimes we don’t even know we need rescuing because we are so busy and weary with life and work. Only when we stop and pray, when we are still and in a posture of listening, can we hear our inner world as the Holy Spirit is speaking to us and drawing us into truth.

The interesting connection between Jesus’ final two commands and the Holy Spirit is that in order to know where to go and how to make disciples, we must learn first to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given precisely for this purpose. We are not very good at this, however, for two reasons: (1) we are too busy going and doing that we don’t have time to listen to the Holy Spirit, and (2) this kind of listening is done best in community.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind, neither to be seen except for the sensation of movement and neither to be heard except for the whispers in our spirits.

Mentoring Communities are based on the biblical truth that the Holy Spirit is among us. The Holy Spirit is present in unique ways when we gather. The Holy Spirit is observed through the fruits of our pursuits, but the Spirit is heard best through humble listening and waiting.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind, neither to be seen except for the sensation of movement and neither to be heard except for the whispers in our spirits. We humble ourselves to pay attention to the Holy Spirit by abiding in Christ, by cultivating a posture of stillness—especially in community. Mentoring Communities can be places where Christian leaders and influencers gather to listen to their lives and the Spirit.

Mary Kate Morse
Mary Kate Morse

This excerpt is from Lifelong Leadership: Woven Together through Mentoring Communities by MaryKate Morse. Read an excerpt from the book here. You can purchase the book at your favorite bookstore. Order from bookshop.org, an online bookseller that supports independent bookstores. Lifelong Leadership is also available at navpress.com.

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