Thinking about the Spirit

Human consciousness is an amazing phenomenon, often taken for granted. At moments it can fill us with wonder. We puzzle at our own consciousness, our mysterious sense of self. Does this strange self-awareness point to a greater consciousness?

Mystics and rationalists have wrestled with this. The 13th century poet Rumi, from the Sufi stream of Islam famous for its “swirling dervishes,” reflects this haunting question about the soul and God:

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere I’m sure of that, And I intend to end up there…Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking…I didn’t come here of my own accord. And I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.”

On the rationalist side Descartes asserted, “I think therefore I am.” Descartes associated our self-awareness with the soul created by God. Today rationalists reject the idea that our spirit is a reflection of God’s Spirit. Secularists are left with a quandary, what can explain human consciousness? Could the human spirit simply be the product of mindless evolution?

Today, in popular culture, talk of the Spirit tends to get reduced to a generic spirituality, related to a vague spiritual power.

This is why an understanding of the Spirit from the Bible is important. God’s Spirit will always be mysterious and wonderful. Likewise the human person created by God cannot be fully explained and reduced to mere matter. This is why there can be music and poetry and dance, why there can be sweet fellowship, intimate love, and breathtaking worship.

The Bible gives us the guidance we need about both our spirit and the Holy Spirit so that we are not led astray. When a person trusts Christ, according to the Bible, God sends his Holy Spirit into our life, so that we can truly and intimately know God and enjoy him.

This was the answer the mystic poet Rumi needed, and it is the answer that you and I need as well.

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