Inspector Gadget and the Holy Spirit

We recently purchased a Roku box to replace cable, which allows us to stream Netflix shows. Avery usually gets locked in to one show that she wants to watch all of the time. (Currently it is “Pingu”, a claymation cartoon made in Finland… pretty funny) So, Ginger and I try to offer other shows for her to watch so we don’t lose our minds.

We were surprised to see Avery take interest in Inspector Gadget, a cartoon from our era. It is an interesting show; sometimes I wonder what we found so great about it when we were kids.

There is a basic plot line to the story. Dr. Claw and MAD agents are about to make a mess of the world, Inspector Gadget is given the case, but he is pretty aloof to anything that is going on. His niece, Penny, and dog, Brain, take it upon themselves to protect “Uncle Gadget”. By the end of the episode, Penny notifies Chief Quimby that Gadget has solved the case and… by accident, Gadget foils MAD’s plans and “appears” to be the hero of the day.

This familiar plot reminds me of the Holy Spirit.

There is a tension in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, the Spirit chooses to reveal things to us. (John 14:26) There are many occasions in the book of Acts, where the Spirit reveals, aligns, empowers, etc. So, in one sense, we should be encouraged to learn to keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:25)

On the other hand, the Spirit is elusive; the moment we think that we have a firm grasp on what to expect from the Spirit, we are plunged into mystery, again. It appears that the Spirit tries to remain hidden/mysterious so we can ultimately be pointed to Father and Son of the Trinity. Jim Smith affirms:

“The Holy Spirit is often the member of the Trinity that gets the least attention. We pray to God the Father, and when we read about Jesus in the Gospels we can picture him in human form. But the Holy Spirit is not often the focus of our lives. I have come to believe that the Holy Spirit is not upset about this. The constant aim of the Spirit is to point us to the Father and the Son, and not to himself.” (The Good and Beautiful God, 28, emphasis mine)

 So, much like an episode of Inspector Gadget, we are like the great Inspector, given a task, yet there is so much going on behind the scenes to our benefit, that we may be tempted to say that we had a lot to do with the kingdom being built, but it was really the Spirit doing the work and we were in the right place to “watch it all go down.”
This is why it is difficult for Christian streams who seem to over-emphasize the Spirit in their ministry. They have legitimately seen the Lord do great work in their midst, and might even be tempted to try and “duplicate” certain techniques that worked before and develop a certitude of the Spirit’s work in their midst.
However, being in these type of settings myself, sometimes things get really awkward. The Spirit does not show up as promised, or leadership in these venues blames the crowd for lack of faith and sin. Perhaps the Spirit was not meant to be monopolized, but simply trusted. May we simply “keep in step with the Spirit,” instead of get ahead of the Spirit.

Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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