What would the Christian life look like without the Holy Spirit? To answer that question, I ask an oddly similar one: What would the world look like without Garfield the cat?
Personally, I’ve never liked the Garfield comic strip, so I’ve always thought the world would be much better off without him. At least, I thought that until I came across the Garfield Minus Garfield website.
The site offers a wonderfully twisted take on the Garfield comic strip. (My 14-year-old son, Josiah, has spent way too much time laughing at the remixed comic.) The twist is that Garfield has been removed from the panels of the comic. He’s just gone. No trace. What that leaves us with is John Arbuckle (his “owner”) by himself. And without Garfield, John starts taking on a fairly freaky personality. Without Garfield’s image and thought bubbles, John comes across as desperately lonely as he talks aloud to himself and is depressingly hopeless about life.
As I looked through the images, it made me think of the Christian “life” without the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I won’t say that Garfield is the Holy Spirit. Heaven forbid! But those comics don’t make sense without Garfield. They are grim and empty.
Garfield is the spark, the life, the power without which John Arbuckle lives a meaningless, hopeless, purposeless life — a shadow life. But when Garfield is in the picture, John’s life is a wild adventure, never lacking in energy and motion. You never know what’s going to happen. You may not like what goes on all the time, but there’s never a dull moment.
Now, the Holy Spirit is a far cry better than a fat, selfish, lazy, mean-spirited cat. He is the one who causes us to bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He is the one who gives us the mind of God and the power of God and the joy of God. He is the one who makes it possible for us to live the Jesus kind of life, the real life that Jesus has opened up for us by saving us from our sins, the life God intended us to live when creating us.
Our sins are what we’re saved from. But life in the Spirit is what we’re saved to. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a Garfield-minus-Garfield glimpse into what life would look like without the Holy Spirit in order to appreciate the wonder that we’ve been given.