No. 48 One often hears T.V. evangelists speak of the �anointing.� What does that term tell us about their understanding of what the Christian life in the Spirit looks like? By comparison, how does Scripture use the language of �anointing� to describe what Christ�s � and thus the church�s � life in the Spirit looks like under the cross? >>DR. LEOPALDO SANCHEZ M.: Joshua, yours is a very timely question. Flipping through TV channels, I often come across many of the so-called name it and claim it and health and wealth preachers who fill the airwaves. I am told when I watch those programs that God's anointing guarantees spiritual freedom from sin, bodily healing and business success in this life. Here the anointing concept refers to the Holy Spirit's presence and power in believers and an idea that has some biblical precedence. In I John the apostle does speak of the Spirit as the anointing which comes from the Holy One which could be a reference to either the Father or the Son with that anointing that teaches all things. It points to the Holy Spirit's role as teacher of Christ and teacher of the truth, who is truth. Yet for these preachers such presence of the Spirit seems to be discernible and validated only in times of joy but not grief. Only in times of good health. But not sickness. Only in times of riches but not when there is lack. Times of spiritual growth but not spiritual struggle. What are these preachers up to? Notice that their notion of anointing assumes what may be called an apathetic view of the Spirit. Namely, an indwelling of the Spirit in the absence of suffering and the cross. As I hear the prosperity preacher's promises, I ask myself: Could this Spirit anointing of the victorious life be the same Spirit with whom God the Father anointed his Son to undergo a sacrificial mission as our suffering servant? I ask myself: Does this Spirit anointing of the successful Christian life be the same Spirit who fills church martyrs such as Saint Stephen, who let Jesus suffer for bearing witness to God's salvation even as he puts his life in God's hands? But then the questions become much more personal: What am I to think of those family members, parishioners, colleagues and students who are struggling to serve God and others in the midst of serious financial, health or family issues? Do they not have the fullness of the Spirit, of the anointing? You see, the apathetic view of Spirit lifts us with a profound crisis of Spirit. The apathetic view of Spirit is not unique to some Pentecostal preachers. We cannot let ourselves be taken off the hook that easily. We, Christians, we Lutherans, often associate the presence of the Spirit in the church only with times of spiritual success as it were. When we receive an answer to prayer for healing, when we articulate or hear a wise reflection, when we show or witness an act of holiness or belong to a growing church, then we are prone to highlight the Spirit's powerful presence among us. But we are less likely to claim the Spirit in times of spiritual struggle when no miracles occur. When we struggle with the will of God. When we suffer the devil's attacks. When we are loosened disciples in the church. Then we do not talk about the Holy Spirit as much. Yet this is in many ways the life in the Spirit that Jesus lived under the cross. Right at the beginning of his ministry the Son is led by the Spirit into the desert to struggle against the devil. Disciples turn their backs on Jesus, the one who speaks words that are Spirit and life. So if people turn their backs on you, don't feel too bad. They did it to Christ. And at Gethsemane as Christ's death approaches, he prays earnestly to his Abba Father in the Spirit as he struggles with God's will. At his worst hour, people veered (phonetic) Jesus to perform a miracle and come down from the cross. He does not. At once priest and victim Christ instead through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God to use the language from the author of Hebrews. You see, like Jesus, we, too, struggle with God's will. We, too, suffer the devil's attacks and face death. But God also established Jesus, a Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead. What is true for Christ is true also for the body of Christ. Those who suffer with him will also be glorified with him. God the Father will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. Here is a further problem with the apathetic view of the Spirit: An apathetic view looks upon those who suffer and struggle as a problem. Supposedly they do not exhibit the anointing or fullness of the Spirit in their hearts until they lead successful lives. Their struggles supposedly mean that they have less Spirit or faith. I prefer to speak of a paschal account. That is to say a cross and resurrection account of the Spirit in Christ. One which reminds the church that her missionary identity does not lie in her being successful. But in her being faithful to the Father unto death. And in her putting her life and mission in the Father's hands no matter what. The church's task is not to lead people to success but rather to make them faithful hearers and doers of God's Word. When the church acts like this, she is most likely to struggle as Jesus did during his own mission. But she will also be putting her life and work in the hands of the God and Father of Jesus Christ who can raise both proclaimers and hearers of the Word from the dead.