“Use the force, Luke,” was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s famous counsel to young Luke Skywalker. Luke daringly flew his X-wing fighter along Darth Vader’s Death Star, the base of the Galactic Empire, to destroy it with a precisely placed shot. He heard the voice of his dead master say, “Let go!” In Star Wars lore, the “force” is an energy field connecting all life. Certain people can tap into this spiritual energy and obtain supernatural abilities. Luke, finally able to “let go” and connect to the force, fired his missile and destroyed the Evil Empire’s base.
I admit I’m not a Star Wars fan. I might be if I could stay awake for a whole movie, but they haven’t been able to hold my attention that long. This is relevant to us because about 6 of every 10 Southern Christians describe the Holy Spirit as a “force” and “not a personal being.”
I don’t know what these folks mean when they say the Spirit is a “force.” The survey doesn’t define the term. Maybe they believe God is a Spirit who doesn’t have a body like man. That’s true. God is a Spirit; he is invisible and immaterial – you cannot see or touch him. However, some might believe the Spirit is a feeling or power in the universe. But this belief goes against Scripture. The core of the Christian faith affirms the personhood of all three members of the one true God.
In Genesis 1:2, the Holy Spirit was “hovering over the face of the waters.” He was active in God’s creative work from the very beginning, adorning “the heavens” (Job 26:13) and creating sea life (Psalm 104:30). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit “above measure” (Westminster Confession of Faith 8:3; London Baptist Confession 8:3). Thus, when men attributed the work of Christ to Satan, they were committing “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 12:31-32).
Scripture also describes God the Holy Spirit as personally active in the life of every believer. Jesus baptized the Apostles into the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). Similarly, the Holy Spirit raises us to spiritual life (John 3:5-8), uniting us to Jesus Christ and enabling us to believe in him alone for salvation.
Unlike the impersonal, unknowable force of Star Wars, God the Spirit intimately relates to God’s people. In our devotional life, the Spirit helps us pray and assures us we are God’s children (Romans 8:12-17), enables us to understand the Bible (John 17:15-18, Hebrews 10:15), to bear the fruits of righteousness (Galatians 5:22), and minister to others within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
God the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force. Described as listening, speaking, and moving, he is just as personal as God the Father and God the Son. Thus, when we worship God, we worship the Holy Spirit too. It is he who, at the God the Father’s command, removes the blindness of our eyes that we may perceive, with eyes of faith, the wonderful grace of God the Son.