I was talking with a friend this week about his struggle to remain faithful in daily life, especially now, when it is so easy to be pulled off track into fear and selfishness. He said he wished that God gave him a button--
• A button that he could push when he needed to get on the right track.
• A button that would keep him from the pride that leads him to think he is right when really there is more to learn; a button that would help him remain humble and remember he’s not God and not in control;
• A button that would stop him from feeling that it is always up to him to come up with the right answer and provide the solution that everyone is looking for be at work or at home.
“Wouldn’t it be great?” he mused, “to have a button that would activate Jesus so he could move our minds and bodies to the right side of the line of faith?”
As Jesus is preparing to leave his disciples, they too wished that they could have had such a button. For three years they lived constantly in Jesus’ presence. As they journeyed and ministered with him, he was always there. For three years, they had the living, breathing button of God that they could press to get the right answer or to resolve any of the conundrums of daily life—what to do when the wine ran out at a wedding, how to feed 5,000 people out in the countryside, how to help a man blind man by the side of the road. Just push the Jesus button and something amazing would happen.
But now Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away, and they are going to lose his physical presence. What were they going to do? How are they going to love each other and the world as Jesus loved them? How are they to carry out the mission of love and healing without his power and presence? What was going to happen when the next storm arose, the next crowd of hungry people pressed in and the next conflict came up with the powers that be? What are they going to do without their at-the-ready Jesus-button?
Their questions and their anxiety echo in our own hearts. If only there were a button we could push that would give us the right answers to everything in life that is now so uncertain: When and how do we return to in-person worship? How much should we go out or stay in? Do we go to the office or work from home? Can we make summer plans or not?
We too, want a Jesus button—a button that would give us Jesus’s answers to these questions, and so many other questions that eat away at our souls. Jesus has left us and with him, any chance of having an at-the-ready button to get clear and satisfying answers.
But even though he did say he would leave physically, Jesus did promise that he would not leave us orphaned. Jesus did promise that because he lives, we will live also. Jesus did promise that he was coming to us and that he would send another—an Advocate—the Holy Spirit to be with us forever. Jesus did promise that this Spirit of Truth would abide with us and will be in us always. Jesus did promise that this Spirit, the “Paraclete”, the one “called alongside us,” would be with us always and forever, so that the power of Jesus will always be beside us and inside us.
Jesus did not promise us a button; instead he gives us a relationship. We experience this amazing gift of the Paraclete in so many profound ways: The Holy Spirit lives beside us and inside us as Comforter, Guide, Intercessor, Helper, Companion, Aid, Advocate—whatever we need, the Holy Spirit is it!
• When you are grieving, sad or despondent, the Holy Spirit comforts you;
• When you are lost or in need of discernment, the Holy Spirit guides you;
• When you are lonely and in despair, the Holy Spirit draws close and accompanies you;
• When you are struggling and in need of assistance, the Holy Spirit helps you;
• When you are at your wits end and cannot do or think another thing, the Holy Spirit comes to your aid;
• When you are so exhausted you cannot even pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for you with sighs too deep for words;
• When you are down and out, the Holy Spirit is advocates for you;
• When you have given all you’ve got, the Holy Spirit abides with you as you rest in the Lord.
Jesus promises, “I will not leave you orphaned.” The Paraclete is Jesus Spirit, right alongside us as a constant, never failing presence to provide us with whatever we need in this world so that we can fulfill Jesus call to love the world as he does.
Jesus promises that as the Spirit dwells in us, we are in Jesus and he is in God, so God is in us and we are in God. We are in the middle of a God sandwich—we can’t be torn apart from God even if we tried because we are in God through Christ and Christ is in God—for in him we live and move and have our being!
We do not need to be despondent that we have no button to push because Jesus has given us an ongoing, ever-present relationship that sustains us, renews us, and restores us. Every day we feel the presence of the living Christ as the Paraclete is beside and within us, giving us all that we need! That is way better than a button!
Every day we can join the Trinitarian party that’s going on inside and around us, sharing in fellowship as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit whirl in their eternal dance with us and through us! When we want to stay on the faithful side of following Jesus with humility and love, with regular corrections to our pride and self-righteousness, we ask the Holy Spirit directly for what we need—whatever that is—Comfort, Guidance, Help, Aid, Wisdom, Companionship, Intercession, Rest.
God does not give us a button because the answer to our problems, to our questions, to our struggles, is not “out there.” Instead God has made each of us the Temple of the Holy Spirit so that God in Jesus can have a living, breathing, loving relationship with you, a beloved son and daughter of the most high that is rooted in here.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God which dwells richly within each one of us. When we ask for help, guidance, wisdom, direction, prayers, rest, hope—whatever we need—the paraclete, who abides beside us and within us, is ready and waiting to love and guide us through whatever we face.
And the gifts of the Spirit come—not in a mechanical sense, but in the blessed assurance, the deep peace, and the hopeful clarity that comes when we trust the agency of the living God above our own.
The Spirit of Truth abides with you and in you. I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. In God we live and move and have our being. Join the Trinitarian dance that is in and around you—there’s no button to enter, for the party is always on and you are already in the middle!