Jesus is my co-pilot?


I read this post the other day about how we shouldn’t use any of the names of God in vain.  One of the times mentioned when we do it is when someone says “Jesus is my co-pilot”.  I have to say, when I’ve heard that before, or seen it on a T-shirt or something, using God’s name in vain isn’t something I’ve thought about.  I always wondered – Why is Jesus only your co-pilot?  Isn’t that kind of a weird thing?

The topic came up in class Sunday, which made me think this is a good time to do an update.  The original is from November 2014.  It’s now August 2017 – almost three years later.  I’ll put the updates in text like this, so you can tell what’s new.

Obviously, “Jesus us my co-pilot” violates a different one of the commandments – the one about “Thou shalt have no gods before Me”.  Am I giving away something when I use “thou shalt”?  Always seems like I do that in certain circumstances.

So that’s at least two commandments we violate every time we say that, or drive around with a bumper sticker that says it.  Actually – I haven’t seen one of them for a long time, but I’m guessing that’s because the saying is out of vogue – not because it might violate a commandment.  Or maybe it’s because I live in ultra liberal California.  I just checked – christianbook.com and even Amazon sell Jesus / God is my co-pilot stuff.

Anyway – If we were going to do anything – wouldn’t Jesus be our Pilot?  Seems like that would make more sense.  What do we do if He’s our co-pilot?  Let Him take over when we’re tired?  Maybe He can take control when we’re in trouble?  Come to think of it – maybe being a co-pilot is really correct.  Even if it’s not what was intended?  Then we get to things like Jesus can have control of the plane until He starts heading off in a direction where I don’t want to go.  Then I’m exercising my rights as a pilot and taking back control!  Sounds like having another God before me.

I tried to find the origin of this statement, but no one seems to be giving or taking credit for it.  There is, however, a saying “God is my co-pilot”, for which credit goes to an actual pilot in WW II.  In 1943 an air force fighter pilot named Robert L. Scott published an autobiography of his experiences in the military and he titled it God Is My Co-Pilot. 1)http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/god-is-my-co-pilot/  It didn’t turn into a “catchphrase” until the 1970s and ’80s.  I assume, some well-meaning person changed it from God to Jesus.

 II kind of liked some of the comments that were recorded from other people over the years –

  • 1999 Hensley Misadventures in the (213) 83 : Kathryn is Dandy’s born-again housekeeper. She drives a Toyota truck packed to the gills with cleaning products and the spirit of the Lord. I met her once at Dandy’s and remember asking her about her God Is My Pilot bumper sticker. “I thought the expression was ‘God Is My Copilot,’” I said. “I promoted him,” she said, eyeing me judgmentally, “and you should too.”

  • 2003 Hall The Walk at Work: Seven Steps to Spiritual Success on the Job 33 : There’s a saying, “If the Lord is your copilot, you need to switch seats.”
  • 2003 Schmidt Lead On: Why Churches Stall and How Leaders Get Them Going 62 : One of my pet peeves is Christian clichés that are sentimentally appealing but theologically inaccurate. One such phrase is “God is my copilot.” It conjures an image of the Christian as being in control while God is simply along for the ride, ready to help in case of emergency. The truth is, God is my pilot, and more often than not He instructs me to keep my hands off the controls!
  • 2007 Dickow Raising Christian Children in a Secular World: Christian Parenting 17 : When I was in high school in the mid 1970’s there was a popular saying, “God is my co-pilot.” I guess it was a way to reestablish God in the lives of many people who had turned away in the untamed 60’s. And although the saying was cute I never gave it much thought.
  • 2008 Stevens Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? 47 : What do you think when you walk past one car that says, “God Is My Co-Pilot” and the next one that reads, “If God Is Your Co-Pilot, Switch Seats”? Here’s the truth: when I see a bumper sticker that says “Too Blessed to Be Depressed” or “This Car is Prayer-Conditioned,” I’m embarrassed.  2)http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/god-is-my-co-pilot/

 

Anyway – back to the origin of this article.

What made me think of this was a dream I had last night.

In our small group at church, we’re reading Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God: Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit .  If you really want Jesus to be your co-pilot – don’t read the book.  Stay as far away from it as possible!  If you’re in that situation though – and want to change it – by all means, get the book.  We’re using the study guide and the videos as well for our discussions.

 

So – the dream.  

I’m in a small plane – and I’m the pilot.  There’s a co-pilot and two other people in the plane with me.  The people who really know how to fly a physical airplane – they’re sitting in the back.  Telling me how to fly.  The co-pilot – he just sits there.  Doesn’t say anything.  Ever.  The whole dream.  He just sits there.

There’s another plane following us.  There’s four people in that plane too.  None of them know how to fly.  But they are trying – not too successfully – to follow me.  Don’t ask me how.  Given that no one sitting at the controls of the planes knows how to fly – seems like we should never have gotten off the ground.  But we did.

There’s buildings all around us.  There’s electric and phone wires all over the place too.  Must be really tall buildings and telephone poles, because I rarely come close to the ground.  (It’s a dream.  It doesn’t have to be realistic!)

There’s also another plane.  He keeps buzzing me.  Trying to keep me from getting above the buildings and the wires.  

And the poor folks in the plane behind are trying to follow me!  

Seems like this goes on forever.  I just can’t get the plane away from the wires and the buildings.  Can’t imagine how no one ever hits anything.  But we didn’t.

Eventually, I wake up.  Never did get away from the buildings, the wires, and the other plane.  Neither did the plane following my lead, trying to get away by doing what I was doing.

 

After waking up – I realize what this was all about.

Isn’t life like what I just described?  Last night I was the group leader.  So people are “following” me – trying to lead a flight where I don’t know how to fly.  How often are we all in a situation where it’s like the blind leading the blind?  And how often are we kept hemmed in by things seemingly beyond our control?  Enter the tall building and the wires.  And then there are the people and events that are trying to keep us down.  Enter the second plane.  And not only am I the pilot of the lead plane – I’ve got people in the back telling me from the world’s point of view how to fly – but I’ve got the wrong co-pilot in the front seat – because He’s already told me I should have gotten the Holy Spirit!  We are in big trouble.  He must have told me that before we started the flight, because – as I mentioned – He never spoke during the flight.  But somehow – I know He’s the wrong co-pilot.

The good news – at least since I had Jesus with me – we didn’t crash and burn.  But we didn’t get away and do what we wanted to do – because we didn’t have the Holy Spirit.  And that reminds me of something else we talked about last night – When Paul wrote –

1Co 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

We didn’t crash and burn – but we didn’t accomplish anything either.  If we keep that up, we’ll make it to Heaven – because we’ve got Jesus with us.  But we’ll just barely make it with nothing to show – because we accomplished nothing good – because we didn’t have the Holy Spirit.

 

How did I arrive at this?  Read on.

In the small group last night, like I said, it was my turn to lead the discussion.  We take turns – rotating through the group.  Just happened to be me that night.  We were talking about the Holy Spirit (obviously).  At one point we were talking when Jesus was telling the disciples how He was going to be going away and the Holy Spirit would come –

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Jn 16:5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Jn 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
Jn 16:16 “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

But notice – if you haven’t before – it wasn’t just that He was going to go.  It was:

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Jesus says He’s going away for our good.  That it’s important for Him to leave – or else the Holy Spirit won’t be coming!

So now I’m thinking – was Jesus my co-pilot?  Was He not saying anything because He was the wrong person in the wrong seat?

I mentioned that I had read a book where the author said the Holy Spirit wanted to take control over our lives.  Someone in the group immediately recognized the problem with that statement.  The Holy Spirit does not want to take control of our lives.  He wants to be given control of our lives.  There’s a huge difference there.

So now what I’m seeing is that since none of us knows how to fly, I really should have had the Holy Spirit as my co-pilot.  Yes – I meant that – the co-pilot.  Remember, I’m just learning to fly.  It’s way too scary to give the Holy Spirit complete control right from the beginning.  Maybe some of you have done that.  Not me.  Too chicken.  He’s already taken me places I didn’t want to go.  And even though it’s always turned out for the best – including the best thing for me – it’s still too scary.  It’s always the very things that I most don’t want to do – the places I don’t want to go – that He’s asking me to fly into!

And then it really hits me.  If you’ve read some of my previous stuff – it’s God’s 2×4 to my head.  (I’ve asked Him to use it when I don’t get His point.)

Jesus isn’t supposed to be the co-pilot.  Jesus isn’t even supposed to be the pilot.  The Holy Spirit is the one we should have – initially as our co-pilot – and if / when we ever trust Him enough – ask Him to be our pilot and maybe we can be the co-pilot.  Jesus isn’t the co-pilot – or the pilot.  No.  Jesus is the destination.  Our goal is to let the Holy Spirit take us on the journey to become more and more like Christ.


I feel like what’s needed here is something about why we are so afraid of the Holy Spirit.  People around my age and older – maybe it’s because the Holy Spirit used to be called the Holy Ghost.  Other than maybe Caspar the friendly ghost – that Holy Ghost name doesn’t exactly bring warm fuzzy feelings to mind.  It’s more like – Run!

Not really understanding what “Fear of The Lord” or “Fear The Lord” means can also keep us away from God – and make the Holy Spirit sound even worse.  For more on that – please see The problem of Fear of The Lord.  

Here are three more potential issues, from The Gospel Coalition –

1. We see the danger of seeking the Spirit apart from God’s Word.

First, seeking an experience with the Spirit apart from God’s Word leads people into dangerous territory. They listen for voices in their hearts or seek “signs” from God in the heavens. They always seem to be talking about what God “said to them” through a stirring in their spirit or in a strange confluence of circumstances. Their worship gatherings devolve into chaos, with strange experiences distracting from God’s Word and His gospel.

In reaction to these unfortunate expressions, we rush to the other extreme. “We don’t want to go there,” we think, and so we minimize any expectation of hearing from God’s Spirit or experiencing Him at all.

2. We don’t want to cause controversy among believers.

Secondly, another reason we may be scared of the Spirit is because He is controversial. Christians come to different conclusions regarding the gift of tongues, or the Spirit’s baptism, or the Spirit’s filling. Often you’ll find that people in the same congregation differ on these questions.

In order to keep controversy from breaking out in a church, the members keep quiet about the Spirit altogether. They think that affirming the basic truths about the Spirit is sufficient. Anything more may lead to disunity.

It’s true that getting hung up on secondary questions can distract us from our mission. But avoiding the Spirit in order to avoid the secondary issues is another way of keeping us from experiencing His presence and power!

3. We are afraid of what the Spirit may do through us.

There is a third reason why we may be scared of the Spirit, and this reason is more personal. Perhaps we are afraid of the Spirit because of what He may ask of us.

We see how the Spirit worked in the early church, how He guided and empowered believers, and rather than be excited by such activity, we’re frightened. We find it more comfortable to keep God at arm’s length, to focus on our behavior rather than our hearts, to focus on Him doctrinally rather than experientially, because we’re afraid He will call us to step out of our comfort zone.

You may or may not have experienced the things described above.  I do need to point out that the first item includes the caveat “apart from God’s word”.  This is especially important when talking about Speaking in Tongues.  It scares people.  The first time I heard it – it scared me a little.  But I already knew the person.  She was, as far as I knew, a perfectly normal Christian – except that when she became very passionate in her prayers – she might start speaking in tongues.  Since that time, I’ve come to know others as well – including one that was praying for me.  Anyway – I feel the caveat is necessary, because when we haven’t experienced something – it can seem strange or scary.  That’s not always the case.  Maybe it’s just different.  

In regards to the second one – I’ve come to speak more and more of the Holy Spirit when I teach a class.  He’s not someone I keep hidden like I did originally.  In a way – it’s more odd to not talk about things the Holy Spirit does through us.  If we don’t give Him credit for what He’s done – what do we do – keep the credit for ourselves?  That just doesn’t seem right.  Or maybe we just give the credit to “God” – leave it very generic – and then we end up with sayings like “God is my co-pilot”?  That doesn’t seem right either.

The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Son.  The Bible never actually uses the word Trinity.  The first known use of the word is in the 2nd Century AD.  Here’s more –

TRINITY. The term ‘Trinity’ is not itself found in the Bible. It was first used by Tertullian at the close of the 2nd century, but received wide currency and formal elucidation only in the 4th and 5th centuries. Three affirmations are central to the historic doctrine of the Trinity: 1. there is but one God; 2. the Father, the Son and the Spirit is each fully and eternally God; 3. the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is each a distinct person. Nowhere does the Bible explicitly teach this combination of assertions. It may, nevertheless, be claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is a profoundly appropriate interpretation of the biblical witness to God in the light of the ministry, death and resurrection-exaltation of Jesus—the ‘Christ event’.  3)Turner, M., & McFarlane, G. (1996). Trinity. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 1209). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Given that the Holy Spirit is one-third of the Trinity – and that He’s as important as what Jesus said in the passage we looked at earlier – should we really be keeping the Holy Spirit hidden?

Jesus also tells us –

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So what are we supposed to do – include the Holy Spirit as one of the names when we get baptized – and then stick Him in the closet, never to be mentioned or heard from again?  That can’t be right.

The fruit of the Spirit

Let’s see then – we shouldn’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit – we shouldn’t hide the Holy Spirit someplace and ignore Him – so what are we to do?  And why?

Paul has a really good summary in Galatians –

Life by the Spirit

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control – those all sounds like good things.  Who would be afraid of them – want to hide them – want to stay away from them?

Fear

What about fear?  We’ve already talked about it – fear of The Lord – fear of the Holy Ghost – fear of things we aren’t familiar with – and on and on.

As was alluded to earlier – fear of The Lord – and in general fear of God from the Bible – isn’t what we think of when we hear the word fear.  We see that here –

Emotional foreboding or dread of impending distress or misfortune. Often spoken of as the source of religion. Yet fear alone can never account for true religion, since men are impelled to draw near unto God, the object of their worship. One does not desire to come close to the being he fears.

The biblical conception of fear embraces a much wider dimension than our common English word, which simply denotes some sort of dread or terror. While this meaning forms an essential part of the scriptural picture, it is by no means the primary significance, especially when the fear of God—an awe-inspiring reverence—is referred to.  4)Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 781–782). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

This topic continues –

Jesus Christ, by his atoning death, resurrection, and heavenly intercession for believers, is the unique liberator from fear. The apostle Paul encouraged the Romans by informing them that in their conversion to Christ, they received the Holy Spirit, not as a spirit of fear and bondage, but as the spirit of adoption, whereby they could address God as “Abba” (Rom 8:15; the Aramaic word commonly used by Jewish children to address their fathers). This is the word by which our Lord Jesus addressed his heavenly Father and which Christians, by virtue of their adoption into the family of God, may also use in speaking to God (Gal 4:6). Recipients of God’s love have received a dynamic force for casting out their anxieties (1 Jn 4:18). A sense of God’s intimate love inspired Paul to say, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31).5)  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Notice here that far from being a reason to fear, the Holy Spirit is our reason to no longer fear.  I probably should point out that the Jewish children in Biblical times had a level of respect and obedience to their fathers that seems to be anything but common today.  Here’s a definition of what Father meant, at that time –

FATHER. The position and authority of the father as the head of the family are expressly assumed and sanctioned in Scripture, as a likeness of that of the Almighty over his creatures. It lies of course at the root of that so-called patriarchal government, Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3, which was introductory to the more definite systems which followed, and which in part, but not wholly, superseded it. The father’s blessing was regarded as conferring special benefit, but his malediction special injury, on those on whom it fell, Gen. 9:25, 27; 27:27–40; 48:15, 20; 49; and so also the sin of a parent was held to affect, in certain cases, the welfare of his descendants. 2 Kings 5:27. The command to honor parents is noticed by St. Paul as the only one of the Decalogue which bore a distinct promise, Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:2; and disrespect towards them was condemned by the law as one of the worst of crimes. Ex. 21:15, 17; 1 Tim. 1:9. It is to this well-recognized theory of parental authority and supremacy that the very various uses of the term “father” in Scripture are due. “Fathers” is used in the sense of seniors, Acts 7:2; 22:1, and of parents in general, or ancestors. Dan. 5:2; Jer. 27:7; Matt. 23:30, 32.  6)Smith, W. (1986). In Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Given that we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, as opposed to God or the Spirit forcing their way into our lives as part of a hostlie take-over, that definition puts us on the side of one who would be blessed by the father – not one who needs to be afraid of him.

Unwarranted fear may harm the efforts of the people of God. Jeremiah was warned by God not to fear the faces of his opponents (Jer 1:8) lest God allow calamity to befall him (v 17). Similar calls to courage were given to Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, and to a great many others (Jos 1:7, 9; Ez 2:6). We realize that even godly people are tempted to fear and may be temporarily overwhelmed (Ps 55:5). So God repeatedly counsels his people not to succumb to that temptation (Is 8:12; Jn 14:1, 27). He tells them to heap their anxieties upon the God of their redemption, whose care for his sheep is infinitely great (1 Pt 5:7). Faith, then, is the indispensable antecedent of fearlessness as seen in the words of Isaiah: “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee” (Is 26:3). The psalmist repeatedly stresses the role of faith in conquering fear (37:1; 46:2; 112:7).7)  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

This is so true – when things start to get to be too much for us, we forget about God – and then fear sets in.  We see God (whether it be YHWH in the OT, an Angel of The Lord, or Jesus) so often saying something along the lines of “do not be afraid”.  It’s almost like that’s how God says “Hello” to us.  Knowing that our first reaction is likely going to be fear – the first thing He does is tell us not to fear.

Genuine faith is expressed in, and animated by, a reverential awe, and this is the basic meaning of the biblical idea of the fear of God. Unless there is personal awareness of the awesome and majestic sovereignty of God, it is impossible to have a meaningful faith existing in one’s heart (Pss 5:7; 89:7). When God was called “the fear of Isaac” (Gn 31:42) it showed the patriarch’s understanding of the immutable greatness of Yahweh. Isaac’s father, Abraham, anxiously observed the absence of this holy fear in the people who dwell in Gerar (20:11). Even Jesus carried out his ministry in the fear of God (Is 11:2, 3; Heb 5:7). Though Christians are to be liberated from the fear of men (Heb 13:6), death (2:15), and life in general (2 Tm 1:6, 7), they must never lose their sense of the awesomeness of God. Such awareness not only leads to true wisdom (Ps 111:1) but also provides direction for the child of God throughout life (Phil 2:12; Eph 5:21).  8)  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

As we begin to realize that God really did create everything we see, and learn how amazing His creation is – including us – a sense of awe, rather than the kind of fear that’s defined by the word today, is what we begin to feel.  It’s just natural.

Godly fear is characterized by total allegiance to the one true God. The Samaritans, in attempting to serve Yahweh and their idols simultaneously, were rejected by God (2 Kgs 17:33, 41). Those who love God learn of wholesome fear by searching the Scriptures (Prv 2:3–5), the Word of God, which the ancient Israelites were commanded to cleave to and obey as evidence of their reverence for God (Dt 6:2). In Acts 10:2 Cornelius and his family were called “God-fearers” because of their high regard for the God of Israel and because they stood in awe of his person. True reverence for God must invariably express itself in good works and holy living (2 Cor 7:1). To truly revere the Lord entails avoiding sin (Ex 20:20) and translating the directives of the Word of God into everyday experience (Eccl 12:13). This holy fear is actually a source of joy (Ps 2:11) and a veritable fountain of life (Prv 14:27). The fear of the Lord is more valuable than the greatest material riches (15:16) because the Lord takes pleasure in those who hold him in such high regard (Ps 147:11).  <fn>Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

This is the culmination of the process that begins when we first invite the Holy Spirit into our lives – probably as our co-pilot.  Eventually – we listen more and more to our co-pilot.  In time, He is guiding more and more of our life.  Maybe we even let Him take over the pilot duties.

Jesus describes this kind of thing when He is speaking to His disciples –

Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
“Come now; let us leave”

Conclusion

Sometimes we read something that makes it all seem so easy.  Or at least it makes us feel like it should be easy.

It’s not.  It’s not easy at all.

I had this dream about three years ago.  But it’s not like that was the first time I read / heard / “knew” any of this stuff.  I’d been counting on the Holy Spirit to take care of my problems for years.  Sometimes.  Usually after way too much time had passed.  In fact, it’s only within the last couple months that something happened where I completely left my life hang in the balance, depending on what God wanted.  I was extremely sick – organs failing.  I was willing to “go home”, if that’s what God wanted.  I was also willing to stay here and do more for God, if that’s what He wanted.  Whatever He wanted – I was good with it.  The thing is, I knew that in order to do more I absolutely needed to give the Holy Spirit more and more control over my life.   A couple of days after that, the doctors began to get things under control with different antibiotics.  They told me it would still take at least 6 weeks to see how much permanent damage had been done.Within two weeks, I was completely recovered,

I had received my answer from God.  I’m still here and feeling great.  And writing about the Holy Spirit, and how I need to spend way less time in the pilot’s seat.  I pray that some day – I’ll be more than happy to just be a passenger – going where He takes me – exploring the world He shows me along the way – accomplishing the things He guides me to do.  Giving credit where it’s due – even while I was still in the hospital, certainly not writing – readership on this site just about doubled to where there’s now usually 600 to 700 people a day, sometimes over 800.  That’s about the Holy Spirit – not about me.

I believe maybe I have this pilot / co-pilot thing now.  The Holy Spirit is the pilot.  No co-pilot is needed, since the Holy Spirit is always on the job and never messes up.  The Father is the navigator, having laid out my flight plan before I was ever born – and already having made adjustments for the things I’ve messed up and the opportunities I’ve missed.  And Jesus is the destination, at the wedding feast of the lamb, as we read in Revelation –

Rev 19:6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.

Rev 19:8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Rev 19:9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

Rev 19:10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Still want to be your own pilot?

If not – like the earlier quote said – switch seats!

 

References   [ + ]

1, 2. http://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/god-is-my-co-pilot/
3. Turner, M., & McFarlane, G. (1996). Trinity. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 1209). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Given that the Holy Spirit is one-third of the Trinity – and that He’s as important as what Jesus said in the passage we looked at earlier – should we really be keeping the Holy Spirit hidden?

Jesus also tells us –

The Great Commission

Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So what are we supposed to do – include the Holy Spirit as one of the names when we get baptized – and then stick Him in the closet, never to be mentioned or heard from again?  That can’t be right.

The fruit of the Spirit

Let’s see then – we shouldn’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit – we shouldn’t hide the Holy Spirit someplace and ignore Him – so what are we to do?  And why?

Paul has a really good summary in Galatians –

Life by the Spirit

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Gal 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control – those all sounds like good things.  Who would be afraid of them – want to hide them – want to stay away from them?

Fear

What about fear?  We’ve already talked about it – fear of The Lord – fear of the Holy Ghost – fear of things we aren’t familiar with – and on and on.

As was alluded to earlier – fear of The Lord – and in general fear of God from the Bible – isn’t what we think of when we hear the word fear.  We see that here –

Emotional foreboding or dread of impending distress or misfortune. Often spoken of as the source of religion. Yet fear alone can never account for true religion, since men are impelled to draw near unto God, the object of their worship. One does not desire to come close to the being he fears.

The biblical conception of fear embraces a much wider dimension than our common English word, which simply denotes some sort of dread or terror. While this meaning forms an essential part of the scriptural picture, it is by no means the primary significance, especially when the fear of God—an awe-inspiring reverence—is referred to.  <fn>Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 781–782). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

4. Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 781–782). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

This topic continues –

Jesus Christ, by his atoning death, resurrection, and heavenly intercession for believers, is the unique liberator from fear. The apostle Paul encouraged the Romans by informing them that in their conversion to Christ, they received the Holy Spirit, not as a spirit of fear and bondage, but as the spirit of adoption, whereby they could address God as “Abba” (Rom 8:15; the Aramaic word commonly used by Jewish children to address their fathers). This is the word by which our Lord Jesus addressed his heavenly Father and which Christians, by virtue of their adoption into the family of God, may also use in speaking to God (Gal 4:6). Recipients of God’s love have received a dynamic force for casting out their anxieties (1 Jn 4:18). A sense of God’s intimate love inspired Paul to say, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31).<fn>  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

5.   Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Notice here that far from being a reason to fear, the Holy Spirit is our reason to no longer fear.  I probably should point out that the Jewish children in Biblical times had a level of respect and obedience to their fathers that seems to be anything but common today.  Here’s a definition of what Father meant, at that time –

FATHER. The position and authority of the father as the head of the family are expressly assumed and sanctioned in Scripture, as a likeness of that of the Almighty over his creatures. It lies of course at the root of that so-called patriarchal government, Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3, which was introductory to the more definite systems which followed, and which in part, but not wholly, superseded it. The father’s blessing was regarded as conferring special benefit, but his malediction special injury, on those on whom it fell, Gen. 9:25, 27; 27:27–40; 48:15, 20; 49; and so also the sin of a parent was held to affect, in certain cases, the welfare of his descendants. 2 Kings 5:27. The command to honor parents is noticed by St. Paul as the only one of the Decalogue which bore a distinct promise, Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:2; and disrespect towards them was condemned by the law as one of the worst of crimes. Ex. 21:15, 17; 1 Tim. 1:9. It is to this well-recognized theory of parental authority and supremacy that the very various uses of the term “father” in Scripture are due. “Fathers” is used in the sense of seniors, Acts 7:2; 22:1, and of parents in general, or ancestors. Dan. 5:2; Jer. 27:7; Matt. 23:30, 32.  <fn>Smith, W. (1986). In Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

6. Smith, W. (1986). In Smith’s Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Given that we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, as opposed to God or the Spirit forcing their way into our lives as part of a hostlie take-over, that definition puts us on the side of one who would be blessed by the father – not one who needs to be afraid of him.

Unwarranted fear may harm the efforts of the people of God. Jeremiah was warned by God not to fear the faces of his opponents (Jer 1:8) lest God allow calamity to befall him (v 17). Similar calls to courage were given to Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, and to a great many others (Jos 1:7, 9; Ez 2:6). We realize that even godly people are tempted to fear and may be temporarily overwhelmed (Ps 55:5). So God repeatedly counsels his people not to succumb to that temptation (Is 8:12; Jn 14:1, 27). He tells them to heap their anxieties upon the God of their redemption, whose care for his sheep is infinitely great (1 Pt 5:7). Faith, then, is the indispensable antecedent of fearlessness as seen in the words of Isaiah: “Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee” (Is 26:3). The psalmist repeatedly stresses the role of faith in conquering fear (37:1; 46:2; 112:7).<fn>  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

7.   Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

This is so true – when things start to get to be too much for us, we forget about God – and then fear sets in.  We see God (whether it be YHWH in the OT, an Angel of The Lord, or Jesus) so often saying something along the lines of “do not be afraid”.  It’s almost like that’s how God says “Hello” to us.  Knowing that our first reaction is likely going to be fear – the first thing He does is tell us not to fear.

Genuine faith is expressed in, and animated by, a reverential awe, and this is the basic meaning of the biblical idea of the fear of God. Unless there is personal awareness of the awesome and majestic sovereignty of God, it is impossible to have a meaningful faith existing in one’s heart (Pss 5:7; 89:7). When God was called “the fear of Isaac” (Gn 31:42) it showed the patriarch’s understanding of the immutable greatness of Yahweh. Isaac’s father, Abraham, anxiously observed the absence of this holy fear in the people who dwell in Gerar (20:11). Even Jesus carried out his ministry in the fear of God (Is 11:2, 3; Heb 5:7). Though Christians are to be liberated from the fear of men (Heb 13:6), death (2:15), and life in general (2 Tm 1:6, 7), they must never lose their sense of the awesomeness of God. Such awareness not only leads to true wisdom (Ps 111:1) but also provides direction for the child of God throughout life (Phil 2:12; Eph 5:21).  <fn>  Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

8.   Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

As we begin to realize that God really did create everything we see, and learn how amazing His creation is – including us – a sense of awe, rather than the kind of fear that’s defined by the word today, is what we begin to feel.  It’s just natural.

Godly fear is characterized by total allegiance to the one true God. The Samaritans, in attempting to serve Yahweh and their idols simultaneously, were rejected by God (2 Kgs 17:33, 41). Those who love God learn of wholesome fear by searching the Scriptures (Prv 2:3–5), the Word of God, which the ancient Israelites were commanded to cleave to and obey as evidence of their reverence for God (Dt 6:2). In Acts 10:2 Cornelius and his family were called “God-fearers” because of their high regard for the God of Israel and because they stood in awe of his person. True reverence for God must invariably express itself in good works and holy living (2 Cor 7:1). To truly revere the Lord entails avoiding sin (Ex 20:20) and translating the directives of the Word of God into everyday experience (Eccl 12:13). This holy fear is actually a source of joy (Ps 2:11) and a veritable fountain of life (Prv 14:27). The fear of the Lord is more valuable than the greatest material riches (15:16) because the Lord takes pleasure in those who hold him in such high regard (Ps 147:11).  <fn>Sacks, S. D. (1988). Fear. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 782–783). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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