Summary: You must have a spiritual existence to understand the Holy Spirit’s gifts and teaching.

Tuesday of 22nd Week in Course

Sept 2, 2008

The mystery that God includes us in after baptism is so profound, so wonderful, that the only way we can understand anything of it is through faith, and the only way we can explain it is through analogy. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul has just told his hearers that no human eye or ear or heart has ever had an idea what it is that God has prepared for those who love Him. But he also tells us that we can have a glimpse of that ultimate reality. The glimpse is through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God that knows God, just as your spirit knows you and my spirit knows me.

In order to catch that glimpse of the promise, however, we must ourselves be spiritual. St. Paul is well aware that many of those who heard him were not living in the spirit. He uses the Greek wordøõ÷éêὸò (psychikos) to describe them. If we reject the Holy Spirit’s transformation of our soul, we are øõ÷éêὸò, and cannot discern the things of God. It’s like trying to stir water into a beaker of gasoline. They don’t mix. And if the Holy Spirit is not operating in my soul, I cannot understand anything God is trying to tell me about my life and actions. So the gifts of the Holy Spirit are also foreign to me. To the unspiritual person, only the material world and the life of the mind make any sense.

Let’s give an example: when you come to my office with a problem, often I’ll offer to pray with you for God’s healing and discernment. If you have a sprained hand and haven’t grown in your spiritual life, you might think, “what a waste of time.” A few years ago there was even an experiment in which people prayed for one group of sick people, but didn’t pray for another, and the researcher found no difference in results. Unspiritual himself, he concluded that prayer does no good. What he doesn’t realize is that when you are sick, seriously sick, you always pray for yourself, and, if anyone knows about it, you can’t stop that person from praying for you. The so-called controlled experiment was a cruel caricature of science. So as we celebrate the saving presence of Christ, pray to grow in your spiritual life, so that you may receive and use the spiritual gifts God is preparing for you.

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