We use the term “alongsider” for believers who walk alongside people from Hindu backgrounds in a gentle, respectful way to help them meet and follow Yesuji. Some would argue that this term is not in the Scriptures, so we should find a biblical description instead.
However, as I was reading and translating John 15 this morning, I came to the place where Guru Yesu promises to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples after he returned to heaven. In the Greek text of John 15:26, Yesu calls him the parakletos. That word has been translated in many ways in English Bibles: Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor.
Each of these words is a legitimate rendering. But some of them are archaic Christian words that only are used in church circles—no one in the larger English-speaking world uses that theological jargon.
So what did parakletos originally mean? Para meant along or alongside. Kletos meant called or invited. So the original idea is someone called alongside a person to offer help, to speak on their behalf, to represent them in a court of law. Hence the wide range of words that can translate the original word.
As I reflected on this original sense of “one called alongside,” it occurred to me that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate and original “alongsider.” He was sent to the first believers to be with them, to teach them more about Yesu, to lead them in knowing and living the truth, to guide them into what Prabhu Yesu wanted for them.
So the Holy Spirit, Pavan Atman, is the ultimate incarnational alongsider. He comes to live inside the followers of Yesuji to help them live out his life and teachings. When believers are encouraged to listen to and follow this Alongsider as he lives in us and with us, teaching us the ways of Guru Yesu.
As I reflect on the Holy Spirit as the Alongsider, that has implications for me as an alongsider. My role is not to tell people how to follow the marg of Prabhu Yesu as I understand it from my culture and context. As much as possible, I need to help them learn to listen to and follow the guidance of the Alongsider and the Scriptures he helped to shape and provide for our guidance.
The incarnational Alongsider, the Spirit of Yesuji, should teach Hindu Yesu Bhaktas how to follow Prabhu Yesu in their families, communities, and country. I should do everything I can to help them listen to his guidance and his voice, the Antaryami.
So in John 15 and 16, if we see those English jargon words (Comforter, Counselor, Helper, etc), we might think of the Holy Spirit as the “Alongsider,” and might actually get a better picture of what Jesus meant. We want to work with the Alongsider, to listen to His voice and leading, so that we can be the best alongsiders or insiders that we can be.