During the period that the media called the Cola Wars, two major US manufacturers seemed bent on securing a market share that included 100% of the population of Earth. Sentimental jingles, cultural icons, lasting tag lines were just some of the detritus that precipitated from this ‘war’. Among these were the red and white suit that Santa Claus now wears, a song about Jesus where he is referred to as ‘the real thing’, a new title for generation ‘X’ and ‘the Pepsi’ Spirit’.
In order to promote this soft drink as ‘the choice of a new generation’, a generation that advertising told us was a ‘Pepsi’ generation’, major motion picture stars and music artists were paid enormous sums to deliver heart rending appeals and sing songs designed to stir emotion and create a sense of identity and loyalty. This excess of emotion and devotion to a product was termed by the manufacturer as a ‘spirit’. Americans by and large felt comfortable with that term and the rest is advertising history. This spirit generated by large sums of money was sufficient to motivate one artist so thoroughly that he became a casualty when his hair caught on fire. That raises the stakes high enough that perhaps it isn’t such a great stretch to call it a war.
War or not, in terms of consumerism, in terms of the battle for the hearts and minds on men, it was indeed a war. This was not a war between manufacturers of fizzy soft drinks, but between that spirit that motivates the carnal mind of man, and the spirit of the living God.
Now what I find most troubling is that America, which was founded mostly by Christians and where the vast majority claim a Christian heritage, was willing to accept the definition of spirit as a mind set comprised of emotion, belief and loyalty. This is the humanistic, debased state that Biblical and religious education has fallen to.
In Genesis 1 we see that the Ruach `Elohyim hovered like a raptor over the face of the waters. And through this agency the solid land was divided from the seas and the clouds. This picture of hovering as on the wings of an eagle is of course a metaphor. The metaphors go even deeper. The word Ruach which we commonly translate as Spirit throughout the Old Testament is the word for wind or breath. If in English someone fell and began having spasms that made it hard for him to breath, we would say he got the wind knocked out of him. When someone is too talkative it was common to say he was windy. This metaphor is not lost on the educated mind.
The Holy Spirit we so glibly refer to is known in Hebrew as the Ruach, or breath, of God. This is the metaphor for the Holy Spirit. What we see this breath accomplishing is a physical feat, namely the fine tuning of the work of creation. In Genesis two, God speaks the Earth into existence; the Breath of God turns mud into dry land and large bodies of water; God shapes the physical body of man; but it is the breath of God that enters him and gives him life.
This relationship didn’t escape the writer of Ecclesiastes who wrote, ‘and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.’ (12:7) He wrote this passage is in the greater context of explaining how vain living really is. To paraphrase, ‘the flesh rots, and God reclaims his life giving spirit so what remains of man?’ The writer is posing a question and trying to demonstrate a point that is beyond the scope of this writing, but what he alludes to in order to prove his point. What he takes for granted that the wise student will grasp, is that the life force of a man is not his own. Nor is it his personality or emotions. Rather it is a gift from god at least partly distinct from Mans personal existence. All men possess this gift, whether they choose to serve God or oppose him.
But these and other passages of Scripture show us that the ruach `elohyim is the immanent presence of God, working physical effect on the plenum of time and space. Rather than distant and unreachable, his presence is as near as your next breath. He is also not merely an emotional response to stimulus. Emotion didn’t effect geologic events and emotion doesn’t cause your heart to beat, and your cells to respire instead of remaining complicated chains of inert organic molecules.
A spirit is a life-force, a source of unconscious higher motives, a preconscious intellect, powerful physical force, comforter or tormentor of the conscious mind, a messenger, and the standing invitation by God for you to reform and serve him.
All spirits originate with God, but some oppose him. Those spirits which we refer to as unclean or evil or demonic or anti-Christ not only oppose God, but exist in a perpetual state of rage against humanity. Their primary motivation in existence is the destruction of your relationship with God. It would be foolish to say that we need an evil spirit to guide and inspire every mistake and rebellion. The Bible tells us that when Adam sinned in the garden he tainted the very spirit that is the natural life force of humanity. Being human is cause enough for disobedience and rebellion against God. You are born with the talent and in this issue we all end live up to our potential.
Becoming a ‘child of God’ in the spiritual sense which the Bible proposes, is a metaphor for the regeneration of renewal of the human spirit, by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. We in the Christian world like to say, Jesus comes to live in your heart. This is a metaphor, for the Ruach `Elohyim condescending to directly communicate on a preconscious level with your spirit. He directly affects change in your life force, cleansing the effects of sin and rebellion from the human spirit within you and begins a relationship of personal interaction with you through this spirit.
Next time you are in church and begin to feel emotionally uplifted, look beyond the emotion into the quiet recesses of your mind. Learn to recognize that nonverbal communication between the Spirit of God and your conscious mind that can only occur when you open yourself to him in praise and worship. Listen with your heart and not your ears. Learn to distinguish between the emotion and the motivator. Therein lays the essence of true communion.
I have been just as thoroughly aware of that self same spirit while the cantors sing the evening prayers. It is just as awesome and real as when the congregation in a Pentecostal church begins to praise and worship God in unison. God inhabits the praises of his people. Let him in. As Jesus put it, let him have supper with you.
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