A Theology of Devolution
“But the Advocate, 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. 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.” John 14:26-27
I discover more and more each day that I need more and more help. It seems in my life instead of evolving into a more self-sufficient person I am devolving into someone who increasingly prizes the assistance offered by others around me. I think the help was always there and available, but I was less receptive to the idea that I needed help of any kind. Asking for and receiving help always seemed to me to be a sign of weakness and dependence that diminished my good standing with others. The reality is that my reticence to admit weakness has more to do with my ego and the ways I want to be perceived by others.
What I am discovering is that Biblical maturity seems to be a devolution into a more child-like response of dependence and trust than it is evolving into someone more self–reliant and independent. Jesus knows our need for help when He speaks of the Advocate the Father will send to lead us and remind us of what is truly important. Growth and maturity are best realized when we recognize that God’s help is forever needed on the journey of life. There is not some moment in the path to maturity in which God becomes irrelevant. My salvation is not based on what I can accomplish but always based on His grace that transforms and renews me even when I am weak and imperfect. But it is not easy to let go of our own efforts to perfectly control the outcomes of our lives. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, according to these verses, doesn’t come just to keep us company, but to both lead and remind us. His leading and reminding seem to indicate that we will get lost and forget along the journey of life with Jesus. God would not send and provide someone we didn’t need, or someone we only needed occasionally. The Holy Spirit remains with us always because we always need the power, advocacy, help, conviction and comfort He provides. Any outcomes we experience are due not to our control and management, but are the fruit of His presence with us in all of life.
One of the primary fruits of this relationship is peace. When I am attentive to relationship with Jesus I should be experiencing a growing peace. Therefore, if I have spiritual experiences that leave me anxious and afraid, they may not have originated with the Holy Spirit. Even Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, says that God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline.
I am praying for a growing sense of child-like faith that manifests itself in a true humility and vulnerability. I long to discover more and more the love of Jesus that greets me each day with a desire to help me become all that He has intended from the beginning. I long to abandon the merit based performance that seeks to accomplish more so Jesus will love me more. I long to manifest the peace that comes from Jesus rather than the anxiety that I have not done enough to earn my place with the Father. I long for a transformed perspective that realizes and acknowledges that my imperfections, character flaws and helplessness to change them are the very gateway to the grace of God in Christ. I long to be able to celebrate my weakness that the power of God that comes through grace might be manifested in my life.
I need the help that only Jesus can provide. Whatever I think I must do to achieve some sense of my salvation and transformation must be abandoned to allow His work of love and grace to bear the fruit of His life in me. Jesus seemed to indicate that all I can do is to trust what he has done, and will do to rescue me from myself, and the insanity of my merit-based life. He has provided the Advocate, His Holy Spirit, to assist me in this journey of faith. He knows I still need help along the way.
So, I am learning to be comfortable with my devolution and embrace again a child-like faith in all Jesus continues to offer and provide for me. I am learning a different definition of maturity and growth, which has far more to do with my weakness than my strength. Ultimately, Jesus, His love and sufficient grace, is truly all I need. May this song assist you further in your reflection.