the resilience of the human spirit

The human spirit is hard to suppress and put out, because after all, it is the very breath of God given to humans. Job is a marvelous case in point, “feisty” as I think Jack Levison says in his most provocative, perhaps somewhat controversial (I would suggest or think, more like misunderstood, at any such point) and I think clearly edifying book, Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life. As Levison points out, various words are used to translate one Hebrew and one Greek word. He wants to use at least mostly one term, “spirit breath,” and keeps “holy spirit” in the lower case so as to incorporate its primal meaning in scripture, without at all denying the Trinity. Passages in scripture need to be studied with this thought in mind, and more.

The life of Nelson Mandela is a good case in point. Here is one in whom at least in some secondary sense the spirit of God was. He had breath, he had life from God, and what is meant here is more than just physical life. There comes with that a resilience: spirit, as our society often uses that term. So that he endured 27 years of imprisonment before history was made in the peaceful dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Of course simply having spirit as in life breath from God, while I think it can bring a sense of wisdom with it, over time especially, does not guarantee one will live as a good human being. Some have been resilient, and still are, in doing evil. This spirit breath is from God and therefore a gift. It comes with responsibility, the sense of stewardship. All in the end are answerable to God.

And since we have all failed, the Christian faith points us to the need of a Savior, who ends up being King as well, in a good kingdom in which righteousness and justice along with mercy rule the day, and humans flourish. God shares in this very life breath with us, through the incarnation in which God became flesh, completely human, in the person of Jesus. And breathes on us the spirit in a new creation kind of way, anticipating the time when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Even through his life giving death.  So that we too, in and through Jesus, may share in a new resilience, in the new humanity in Jesus, together for the world.