A friend gave me Forgotten God by Francis Chan when he received a spare copy to read and review. Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit is the book’s stated goal, and as a reader I found myself challenged on several occasions as Chan unpacked the details of that goal throughout the text.
Astonished? This is not a distant, loose connection. This is the Spirit of God choosing you and me to be His dwelling place.
Who is the Holy Spirit? Why do we call on His power? What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us? How do we hear Him? Forgotten God provides a deep exploration of all of these questions, and more. Chan challenges followers of Christ to change the way we think about and interact with the Holy Spirit, and shows how those changes can reform our churches, our relationships and our lives.
When we think of the Spirit of God, we are often too quick to approach it as an impersonal force. We focus on the Spirit’s power and ignore it’s personality. At our worst, we treat the Spirit like a holy vending machine, asking for supernatural healing, or maybe for wisdom and guidance when we are trying to resolve a difficult situation.
We forget that the Holy Spirit is God. He is the loving, eternal presence of the omnipotent God. We encounter His power at His will and for His purpose. He leads us towards holiness and allows us to crucify our flesh (Galatians 5:24), so that that purpose is better fulfilled through us.
I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn’t come through, I am screwed.
If I have any criticism of Forgotten God, it’s that Chan sometimes attempts to direct the reader into deeper thought or conviction at certain points in the text (i.e. “Take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself…”). These almost never lined up with the times that his text actually convicted me or turned me towards deeper thought. I hope some of his readers found his guidance at those points helpful, but I just found them distracting.
Other than that, I found this book challenging and worth reading. It especially shined for me when the topic turned towards what a church heavily influenced by the Holy Spirit could be like, and how Chan’s desire to make his church more like the church of Acts 2 completely revolutionized that community.
The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. […] Without the Spirit of God in our midst, working in us, guiding us, and living through us, we will never be the kind of people who make up this kind of community.
I am ashamed to admit that I am jealous, but I’m also encouraged. After all, Chan didn’t do anything in his church that you can explain without the Holy Spirit, so there’s hope for the rest of us, right?
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