The Ugly Truth, the Beautiful Truth - John 15:26–27; 16:4b–15
We live in a world that exalts the beauty of the individual. Just look at the fuss being made over the royal wedding and the bride herself. It’s all about the dress, the pageantry, what she will do, what trends she will set, and so on. In fact, the drama surrounding her family has been likened to a UK version of the Kardashians. It is all about the bride, because we love to get lost in the fantasy of self-styled beauty. We want to place individuals on a pedestal and glory in the beauty they present.
We do this as Christians just as much as anyone else. We like to see Christ in his glory, the resurrected and ascended majesty of God. We want our Christian lives to display the wonder and glory and majesty of a relationship with the Divine. We want to capture the perfected beauty that overcomes and transforms us from ugly to beautiful. So, when it comes to the Holy Spirit we, we are more focussed on the wonder and power the Spirit brings, rather than the reality that exposes us for who we truly are.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples that the Spirit’s first task is to guide us into the path of truth and lead us to proclaim that truth to the world. But the sequence is important. The Spirit comes to prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness and judgement. He Spirit’s first task is to reveal the sin of unbelief in Jesus, to point to a righteousness only found in Jesus, and to remind us that Christ has conquered our great adversity the devil. He does this, not under his own authority, but under the authority of Jesus himself, the one whose death and resurrection reveals our brokenness and offers unconditional grace to all who come to him. Only then doe the Spirit expose the glory of Jesus to the world.
The Spirit comes to expose the ugliness of our lives and offers the opportunity to see the beauty that is only found in Jesus. True beauty is found in in the death he won for us. It is in the suffering and pain of the cross that God’s grace is found, and it is to this that the Spirit calls us. But having called us to repentance and revealing God’s unconditional grace, the Spirit leads us to live under the shadow of the cross, in the grace of God. The gifts he gives, the faith he empowers us with, the life made possible in Christ, are all given, not just to you, but to everyone who believes in Jesus. For the true beauty the Spirit exposes is not found in any individual, but in the community called the church.
What does this look like, this beauty that is hidden in the suffering and death of Jesus? It is found in the one whose life is broken and in tears, searching for an answer, and looking toward Jesus. It is found in the search for hope and beauty in a world that seems scarred and ugly. It is found in the truth that, in Christ, we are not alone in the world. The Spirit is at work calling and enlightening people in the darkness of their lives, calling them to look beyond themselves and the world for the rue beauty which God offers. You can see this, if your eyes are open. It is this reason I encourage you to have an active faith which reads the Bible daily, prays constantly, and comes together in community to worship. The more we do this, the more in tune we become to see the Spirit truly at work, not just inviting others to Christ, but drawing them to you to speak the truth of God’s love into their lives.