In my last article, I explained that baptizo (the Greek word for “baptize”) means to merge or saturate something to the point of transforming its essence. One of the oldest documented uses of baptizo is found in an ancient pickling recipe. Although the phrase “pickled in the Holy Spirit” sounds silly, and is unlikely to catch on, the imagery it evokes gives a helpful perspective on what Spirit baptism actually is. To be baptized by the Holy Spirit is to have our consciousness soaked in the presence of God so that our beings take on the flavour of God.
The question I want to focus on in this article is, “What is this Sacred Spirit we are pickled in like?”
Jesus’ most important and detailed teachings about the Holy Spirit occur in the Gospel of John, where the most common word or name that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit is “paraclete,” which is interpreted in a number of ways. Some of the most common interpretations are: one who consoles or comforts; encourages or uplifts; teaches or instructs; is a companion or helper; and defends or intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court.
I believe Jesus’ ultimate goal was to permeate or merge human consciousness with the presence of this sacred paraclete. So what does this mean?
I believe we all have numerous “voices” communicating in our consciousness. Stay with me. What I mean is that we all have different modes of self-talk occurring in our conscious and subconscious minds, such as our inner critic, our inner victim, our inner warrior, etc. The nature of our various modes of self-talk is extremely complicated. But in part they are the result of messages we have repeatedly received throughout our lives that we have, over time, internalized. After a while we are no longer able to distinguish between the original sources of these “voices” from our beliefs about ourselves.
For example, if a parent repeatedly tells a child she is stupid, that child will more often than not internalize that message as part of her identity. The voice in her head telling her she is stupid slowly morphs from an echo of an abusive parent into her own inner voice. The internal message becomes “I am stupid” and is now an unquestioned part of her self-concept.
We all have numerous “voices” or modes of self-talk in our conscious and subconscious minds that significantly shape our beliefs, self-concept and behaviour, even though we are often not aware of their presence. One of the results of Spirit baptism is the introduction of—or more accurately—a tuning in to a new “voice” in our consciousness. The paraclete becomes our inner companion, a “voice” that consoles and comforts us, encourages and uplifts us, teaches and instructs us, and defends us.
The role of defender is a particularly interesting aspect of the paraclete’s presence in our consciousness. You might be wondering who or what she defends us against? The answer: Primarily the other voices in our conscious and subconscious minds. As the cliché goes, “We are our own worst critics.” We are hardest on ourselves. The paraclete defends us against our own negative self-talk, our own limiting beliefs and self-condemnation. The paraclete continues to point to the image of God within us, and over time, if we continue to tune in to the Divine Spirit’s counsel, we start to believe this about ourselves. And we eventually become what we believe to be true about ourselves.
What I’m talking about here is the still small voice of God, something most Christians claim to believe in. I believe that when Jesus promises to baptize people with the Spirit of God he means, in part, making the still small voice of God resonate with more volume and clarity in our consciousness. It should be noted that the still small voice of God communicates in many ways, such as intuition, feelings or dreams, and not just with words.
I used to think I knew what the still small voice of God sounded like. It turned out to be the judgmental voices of some angry religious authorities from my childhood that I had internalized. I have come to realize that the still small voice of God is the paraclete that Jesus talked about. Instead of judging me, the paraclete comforts, encourages, uplifts and defends me. Always.
My favourite mystic, Meister Eckhart, wrote, “Any talk of God that does not comfort you, is a lie.” When I first read these words I thought they were too good to be true. Now I know that when it comes to God, if it’s not too good, then it’s simply not true. l
Troy Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is pastor of Quest in St. Catharines, Ont.
--Posted Dec. 24, 2013
Part 1 (Sept. 30. 2013 issue)
Part 2 (Oct. 28, 2013 issue)
Part 3 (Nov. 25, 2013 issue)
Part 5 (Feb. 3, 2014 issue)
Part 6 (March 3, 2014 issue)