The Holy Spirit and our Families
“Faith and Family”
by Marcus J. Carlson
Life brings challenges and suffering, but we have been given the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. In comforting our children, we have an obligation to point our children to the Holy Spirit for comfort.
We face decisions each day as individuals and as families. We may choose to follow our own appetites and desires or we may follow the Spirit’s guidance. Surrendering our desires is no easy task, but if we model this for our children, we will have given them a gift that supersedes anything we can give them through our own efforts. As individuals, families and churches we must always look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.
The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is an image of what it looks like to live life in the Spirit. What a joy it would be for us as parents if we and our children could be marked by this fruit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). Earlier in the chapter, as Paul writes about such topics as freedom and love, he also points us to what it means to live life rooted in the Holy Spirit. Simply put, a life established in the Holy Spirit is one of trust. My hope and prayer as an individual, pastor, husband, and father is that each day I might grow in my trust of the Holy Spirit. My prayer for my children and all those I serve, lead, and know is that they may know, trust, and grow in their trust of the Holy Spirit each day. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, our children, and our families is to continually ask how and where we may trust the Holy Spirit. Parenting is one of the greatest joys and challenges we have; why would we want to do it without the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises us abundant life. It is one of my favorite passages in Scripture, but also a source of discouragement. Many Christians I meet do not strike me as embraced this abundant life. This life is found in Jesus alone, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us to abundant life. It is tempting to look to circumstances and performances instead of to the Holy Spirit. Life can get wrapped up in the activities, successes, and failures of our children. Being imperfect beings, this is problematic, as nothing on earth can bring us abundant life. Only Jesus can bring us abundant life through the guidance of His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is and must be the one to guide our churches too. Sadly, that is not always the case. Desires, fears, traditions, and finances often guide us. Some of these things have value; however, not all these earthly factors combined could never be as significant as the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The first question that any church should ask itself in making a decision is, “What is the Holy Spirit saying and doing among us?” Sometimes this is not obvious and sometimes in smaller matters, there is no answer. Even in the midst of our best attempts, we get this wrong. Yet, none of this should keep us from seeking the Holy Spirit first for the decisions we must make, using Holy Scripture as a lens for guiding us in the truth. Through His Spirit, God has given us wisdom, spiritual gifts, and other resources. We have all we need to be the Church of Jesus Christ in whatever place or season we find ourselves. What would be the result if our congregations were really guided primarily by the Holy Spirit? The renewal that we often desperately want is not as far from us as we might think. If we listened to the Holy Spirit, I suspect we would not be wrestling with decline and survival, but instead, how to handle all the ministry that God brings our way.
We cannot deny that as followers of Jesus, we are called to live life in the Holy Spirit. Why would we want any other life? Life in the Spirit is one of joy and peace, mystery, hope, and abundance. May Christians, their families, and their churches around the world find themselves guided by the Holy Spirit instead of human strength. When Jesus left this earth, he did not leave us, and he did not leave us alone. We disciples of Jesus as His Church, have been given the Holy Spirit. There is nothing else we could ever need.