1In the beginning God created heaven and earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, and there was darkness above primeval ocean, and God’s wind was blowing above the water. — Genesis 1:1-2
I used this text yesterday to talk about thinking. The reason we can reason is that God created order from complete chaos.
I’m using my own translation here, and some may be wondering about â€œGod’s windâ€ rather than the more traditional â€œspirit of Godâ€ in Genesis 2. I could point to many verses, but I will limit myself to John 3, the story of Nicodemus, and Acts 2, Pentecost. In John 3 Jesus compares the Holy Spirit with the wind. You don’t know where it’s coming from and where it’s going, and so it is of those born of spirit. The Greek word there for â€œspiritâ€ and â€œwindâ€ is the same.
Similarly at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes with the sound of a rushing wind and there are flames of fire involved. Spirit and wind use the same word, and share many of the same characteristics.
It is fashionable to think of the Holy Spirit bringing disorder. We like to use John 3 to explain how a person who is Spirit-led will be unpredictable and will do things that appear to be stupid. The Holy Spirit coming into action in a church will disrupt the normal functioning of that church, tear away power structures, and present a new freedom. The new freedom is often perceived as chaotic, unmanageable, and frightening.
Hold that thought and lets run it through Genesis 1:1-2. God here starts with something formless and empty, not useful, the infinite chaos. The Spirit moves, and the result is to bring form and fullness out of what was formless and empty. I am aware here that the Old Testament does not teach a full idea of the Holy Spirit, but I’m willing to believe that where God’s wind is active, we are talking about the action of the Holy Spirit.
Here the Spirit brings order, not disorder. Purpose, direction, and structure, not formlessness.
Now let me refer to 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. Paul tells the Corinthians that they have been brought by one Spirit into one body, no matter how different they were before. The Holy Spirit came and brought form and order to the church. The church became a body because God’s wind was in it.
So does the Holy Spirit bring order or disorder? Good question! Yes! Or to be more precise, the Spirit brings God’s order. Let me illustrate. If my spiritual life is stalled, and I am getting nowhere, it will still have order. Perhaps I go to church weekly, participate in a small group, but the life is gone. Yet there is order. But order doesn’t necessarily mean function. If the Holy Spirit comes in, he is probably going to create disorder in my orderly life. Why? Because my life is heading for destruction. It’s doing so in good order, but it’s heading there nonetheless. It needs to be shaken up, changed, re-ordered.
Similarly with a church. If your church is stable, orderly, but going nowhere, not helping the poor, not building the community, and not providing a good witness for the Kingdom of God, then the work of the Spirit will break up that order. At the same time it will breathe a new order, one directed by the needs of God’s kingdom.
As in Genesis 1, you have to follow the process all the way through. The full creation is only proclaimed at the end of the 6th day. The separation of the land and water (Genesis 1:9-10) presents a pretty chaotic picture, but the chaos was necessary before plants could grow.
You may experience some apparent chaos when the Holy Spirit works on you. Stick with it. Eventually the Spirit brings orderâ€”God’s order.