Many years ago, I tried sailing a small catamaran on Cockburn Sound in Western Australia. The wind was probably only about 1 knot, barely enough to move us in a forward direction. The wind did pick up a little bit, and I was white knuckle terrified.
Reflecting on Jesus’ words to Nicodemus made me think about this experience. The wind blows and you don’t know where it is coming from or where it is going – this is how it is for those of the Spirit. Just like I feel safer in a motor boat rather than at the mercy of the wind, we tend to feel safer if we have a rule book for life that sets our trajectory and “spirit” makes us feel uncomfortable. It is my opinion that it is the one’s led by the Spirit that are often considered the heretic, as the Spirit has a tendency to tack in unorthodox directions. We have stopped killing the Prophets but the “tents” we have built on top of the mountain give us a protective boundary that keeps that nasty wind out.
Jesus expects a leader like Nicodemus to understand the simple facts of faith – but it seems to escape leaders in general – it scares them because you can’t keep the wind under control.
Written word, taken literally, tries to capture the wind. I hear it said so often that we need a firm anchor in the truth of the Bible – and we see it world-wide, and religion wide. Fear based religions need to anchor onto something. As long as it is not the Spirit because that moves. And yes – Christianity as it is presented to us in most cases is a fear based religion. (query me on this one if you disagree)
How we enter Bible reading has a huge impact on what we are actually going to hear…..I propose that believing in an unchanging God is good, but believing in an unchanging Bible is devastating. We see the wind moving through the Bible and in His people but it is a wind of change. Putting it another way – the biblical writers have recorded how God was seen to them at a given moment in time. They have captured the wind and put it on paper….but it is not the wind. God has not changed but through the history of the Bible we see that the view of God has changed.
Ancient religion saw our God as the most powerful God. Not as the only God but one of many, he just happened to be the most powerful – it was this God that they would take in front of them to lead them into battle – what happened on earth mirrored what happened in heaven so the battle was one that was waged between gods. The Spirit moves in the Bible and we see man’s concept of God slowly change, there is only one God.
Gods expect sacrifice, even human sacrifice. Abraham was not surprised by such a request – ancient gods demanded sacrifice – the ram that Abraham noticed just before he done the deed surely begins to change this notion. We also know that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter to Yahweh and was commended for his faith, but we also see change as time progresses. Animals are sacrificed instead of people and laws are put in place to stop this.
But God does desire animal sacrifice because sin can not be forgiven without the shedding of blood, but then we hear the wind whistle again later, God doesn’t want sacrifice but a clean and merciful heart. God commands violence and as I keep getting reminded – he is also a God of wrath – but then the Spirit blows through the pages and says to King David that he can not build the temple because he has blood on his hands, the Spirit looks forward to a time when tanks will be retro-fitted into farming machinery.
The Jews wait for the ultimate “Judge” the powerful warrior king who will execute divine wrath and restore his chosen people in the land promised to them – and they get Jesus who suggests turning the other cheek to Roman oppression. The long-awaited wrath of God is silent as angry, violent religious men commit the wrath they so desired.
Why is it so important that we see the Breath of Spirit in the Bible, rather than rock solid unchanging truths?
Because the wind blows where it chooses and is not captured by the controlling motors of ruling powers and authorities.