A Conscious Dependence on the Holy Spirit

By Tim Hawkinson

In his book Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege, Dominique Gilliard quotes New Testament scholar Michael J. Gorman: “The Spirit dwells in our midst, not just in our hearts.”

What a beautiful truth that is! Reminding the church that we must not only be dependent on the Holy Spirit but that we do so consciously is essential. If I may invent an adjective, this one is “affirmational glue,” empowering and enabling all the others.

Think about it: We cannot allow God’s Word to be central (not to mention alive or active); we cannot expect new life to come, much less flourish; we would not dare to expect freedom and unity to coincide among us; nor both great commission and greatest commandment to be pursued in tandem—without consciously depending upon the Spirit. Whenever we have, in fact, failed to do so, perhaps repentance is in order, recognizing conviction as yet another of the Spirit’s functions!

Mike Breen of the discipleship resourcing movement 3DM says that the foundation of Christian living is hearing and doing—that followers of Christ must habitually listen for Jesus and respond faithfully. Whether through Scripture, community, or personal revelation, we are utterly dependent on the Spirit to lead, inspire, and guide.

In our church, we encourage congregants to ask often, “What is God saying to me, and what am I going to do about it?” Without a question like this—and the Spirit-centered attentiveness it fosters—we too often substitute our experience, logic, desire, or (heaven help us) fear to be that which we unconsciously depend on.

Michael Gorman’s quotation ends with these words, which are my prayer for our congregation and for the Covenant at large: “The Spirit of cruciformity is the Spirit of Christian community, and it is by means of cruciformity that the Spirit produces unity.”

May we ever be consciously dependent on the Spirit of Jesus, the crucified, risen, and reigning One.

Tim Hawkinson

Tim Hawkinson

Tim Hawkinson is pastor of Renew Covenant Church in Carroll, Iowa.

By Devyn Chambers Johnson

In January 2021, we packed up all our belongings, our two young children, and drove north. Covid was a depressing time to move. After serving a church in the Washington DC suburbs for 10 years, we had to settle for a Zoom goodbye party and a drive-by farewell. Even more unsettling was how little we knew about where we were headed.

Everyone has their crazy Covid story; ours was moving—sight unseen—to serve a new church. As I drove through rural Pennsylvania with the kids bickering in the back and my husband in the car behind us, I couldn’t help thinking, What have we done? I mean, everyone seemed nice in our online interviews, but what were we thinking, relocating our family with so little information?

When the girls weren’t bickering, they were asking questions about our new house, our new church, our new town, and their new school. It seemed that in answer to every other question all I could say was, “I don’t know,” “I hope so,” or “I guess we will see.” Finally exasperated by my lack of information, my oldest asked me to turn on music. The first song was “Into the Unknown” from Disney’s Frozen II. No song could have been more appropriate. We belted it out together with Crayola markers for microphones.

The truth is, we were headed into the unknown, but we weren’t alone. We had each other, and deep in my soul, underneath all the noise of my fears, I knew we were following the Spirit’s leading.

Our move from Virginia to Massachusetts made very little sense on paper, but it has proven to be exactly where we are supposed to be. It is not without challenges, of course, but the Holy Spirit has been our constant companion. Thanks be to God.

Devyn Chambers Johnson

Devyn Chambers Johnson

Devyn Chambers Johnson and her husband, Ryan, live in Easton, Massachusetts, where they co-pastor Covenant Congregational Church. Devyn is the founder of Four More Women in the Pulpit and part-time faculty at North Park Theological Seminary.

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