My mind has been wandering to the person of the Holy Spirit. He was the last to be revealed in scripture with His splashy entrance on Pentecost (Acts 2). He is often misunderstood and mistrusted. Some people even get the feeling that He isn’t as important as Jesus or God the Father; like the Holy Spirit is the kid brother God made Jesus take along so He could be included.
I don’t think this is the truth of the matter. I think the staggered revelation of the three persons of God, the Trinity, is actually a progression of intimacy in a relationship. All three persons are present and active in the whole Bible (Gen. 1, 2; Ex. 31, 35; Num. 11; Judges 3, 6, 11,15; Job 34; Ps. 139; Isaiah is full to the brim with all three persons of the Trinity; Micah 3; John 1; just to name a few references) but they are not all fully revealed until the time God chose to reveal them fully. God was always whole, but He waited to invite us into deeper intimacy of knowing Him.
First there’s knowing God on the crowd level, like being in a group of friends. You know who He is, but only in a group setting. That’s like God the Father revealed through the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. In order to spend time with God you had to do so indirectly at the temple and do it as a group.
Second there’s knowing God on an exclusive level, one on one. You find out why He is who He is, hearing His story and discovering His heart. That’s like Jesus coming to earth to be with us in person. He told us His story, He showed us His heart and it was for us. The relationship the disciples had with Jesus, was direct and personal.
Last but not least, there’s knowing God in such a way that He is with you, in you. Once Christ ascended and the Holy Spirit was revealed in the New Testament you could ask to be filled by the Holy Spirit. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that God enters into your heart and says to your heart, “You are mine.” It is by the same power of the same Spirit that we respond to that with the heart-cry, “Abba Father!” (Galatians 4:1-7) Through the Holy Spirit you can offer your whole self to God. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you are invited to be one with Jesus. Just as Jesus and the Father are one. (John 14:20)
That third level of intimacy isn’t last because it has less value. It is last because it has greater value. Jesus said the Father would send a Helper to abide with us. Jesus describes Him, “The Spirt of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:17-18 NKJV) Later Jesus says He wanted to tell the disciples about the Holy Spirit in person so they knew He was from the Father like Jesus was from the Father. Jesus describes the Holy Spirit further, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, who the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26 NKJV) It is in the context of the Holy Spirit that Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV) Peace that is not from this world is from the Holy Spirit. Peace that allows your heart to rest without trouble or fear is from the Holy Spirit abiding with you.
Sure, it’s always risky to put down the public front and allow yourself to be seen. It’s hard to let someone in to what you’re thinking and feeling. It’s uncomfortable to share what’s really going on underneath everything else. But when it’s God it isn’t actually risky, it just feels risky.
When you become close with God through the Holy Spirit, God doesn’t get to the heart of your being, see your motives and go, “Oh. Ah, this was more than I bargained for.” He doesn’t cringe and then try to recover, hoping you didn’t see Him cringe. He gets to the heart of you and says, “I know. I knew all along. I still wanted you back. I did everything I’ve done that you read about in My Word so I could get you back. I’m so glad to have you back, hurt and all.” When God sees your heart He smiles and invites you into His embrace.
God is always looking at the heart of His people. Through the power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are engaged with His heart and the relationship goes from looking to interacting to wholeness and restoration.