I love basketball. It’s my favorite sport. If you were to ask me who my favorite player is to watch, without missing a beat I would say Stephen Curry. Now, please don’t take me for a bandwagon Stephen Curry fan. He’s been one of my favorite players since his college career at Davidson.
I can tell you his stats, the names of his teammates, and the list of reasons why I think he completely deserves the MVP trophy for the second year in a row. But I don’t know Stephen Curry… (I'm holding back the tears). I know a lot about him, but I don’t know him. I know what he does, how he does it, and a little bit about why he does it. But as far as who he is as a person, I only know the bits and pieces that I have been able to gather from afar.
If I wanted to have a friendship with Stephen Curry, trying to use the knowledge that I have about what he does in order to attain and maintain that friendship would be the wrong way of going about it. I would need to know who he is as a person.
I would need to know what he appreciates and what things, outside of basketball, that he is passionate about. I would need to know what types of things upset him and what types of things bring him joy. I would need to learn about his personality, about the traits that make him who he is (I’ve fantasized about being friends with Stephen Curry before if you couldn’t tell already). I would need to spend time with him.
Get To Know the Person, Not the Product.
As a Christian culture, we have related to the Holy Spirit primarily based on what He does and not who He is. We have gotten lost in the debates about gifts and tongues (what the Holy Spirit does) and nearly lost our exploration and examination of his person (who He is) altogether. John Bevere says this, “There is an error that many make: they have attempted to understand the work and the power of the Holy Spirit without first coming to know Him as a Person.”
The Holy Spirit Desires Friendship
The Apostle Paul ends his second letter to the Corinthians by saying, “The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14 MSG).
The Holy Spirit desires to have a deep and abiding relationship with us. So imagine for a second that you were actually friends with Stephen Curry. If you and the rest of his friends were constantly debating about if he would end up being the greatest shooter of all time instead of getting to know who he was as a person, he wouldn’t stay friends with you for very long.
In the same way, we have neglected the friendship offered to us by the Holy Spirit. We have focused so much on what He does that we have lost sight of what brings Him joy and what grieves Him and disregarded Him as an “it” or a force and not a person. In the same way that Stephen Curry is not simply a basketball machine, the Holy Spirit is not some inanimate, abstract object that simply serves a function. They are both persons.
We have been offered intimate friendship with God. A deep, satisfying, personal relationship awaits us if we will pursue it. The Holy Spirit is the Helper and Comforter and I don’t know about you, but those are two things I need: help and comfort. But He has also come to help us walk in power! Power over sin and the works of the Devil. The place where we have gone wrong is that those things are the results of our friendship with Him, not the objects of our pursuit.