Reflection 051720 May 17, 2020
1 Peter 3:13-22/ John 14:15-22
People of the Holy Spirit
This week, I saw a nurse’s post on social media about those who complain and protest about the quarantine. I was happy to read a medical professional’s post shutting down the complainers who don’t have the medical knowledge to decide what is safe or not, because I had been frustrated at the people who don’t heed the medical advice. With some bad language reflecting his anger and frustration at those people, he adds that if they get sick by being stupid and stubborn, he will take care of them all the same because he is a nurse. This bit made me reflect on a lot of things. Think of the US president; he has been ignoring science and failed to protect his people, and a lot of people hate him for it, but if he gets sick and is sent to the hospital, the doctors and nurses who are mad at him or hate him will still take care of him because of their oath.
The principle of not paying back evil with evil is the foundation of Christian faith and the Christian love taught by Jesus, and the most challenging part of following him. That is why we learn this lesson in 1 Peter chapter 3. “Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,” (1 Peter 3:16b-18)
As a woman of colour, I often experience sexism and racism in different forms. I meet people who mistreat me, hurt me, and make me hate them. We all do. Between bigotry and experiencing toxic people in my life, I have a lot of reasons to hate someone or be angry, which is why the Christian teaching to not pay back evil with evil is so challenging. It almost seems humanly impossible. The focus is on the word “humanly.” What seems humanly impossible, we are being told to do as followers of Jesus Christ. What we cannot do as humans, God’s spirit can help us do. Let us take a look at John chapter 14. As I mentioned last Sunday, here, Jesus is giving his last teaching before his arrest and death. How is this teacher to trust that his clueless disciples will do well in spreading his message of God’s kingdom after he is gone? He tells them that the Holy Spirit will come to them and be their helper. Jesus will not be there physically to guide them, but the Holy Spirit will. We belong to him and he belongs to us. How lovingly intimate! Because of Jesus’ teaching, we know that all those who follow him are the people of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we can communicate with God and receive guidance. What is “humanly” impossible, we can achieve it with the help of this “Helper”, the Holy Spirit. For example, when I was dating Attila, his ex-wife, who is psychologically troubled, gave us such a hard time and did everything she could to delay the divorce process. “Humanly”, I hated her. I was angry. I had to pray for compassion… very hard! Eventually, I stopped hating her because I understood she has an undiagnosed psychiatric condition, which was the source of my compassion.
We are the people of the Holy Spirit. We belong to God through Jesus and his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide and helper. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-47). It seems humanly impossible, but we can do it because we belong to God and the Holy Spirit is our helper and guide. During this pandemic and the economic crisis that comes with it, we see a lot of people being selfish, and people who hold power being oppressive. This collective trauma is affecting all of us. This is a great time for us to be the people of the Holy Spirit and shine the light of Christ. Let the Spirit abide in us and guide our feelings, attitudes, words, and actions. Let us become bigger people in the face of collective trauma with impatience and emotions rising. Let us embody the compassion of God’s kingdom during this difficult time. Let the peace that only comes from God that surpasses all human understanding, be with us.