We’ll all heard the saying, “All talk and no action”. It’s a great statement; inspiring, challenging, helpful. It’s used in settings where someone may be saying all the right words, but isn’t backing them up with his or her actions.
What if we were to reverse this? What if, at times, the opposite is true? That we are all actions, but no talk?
As we continue to jump into this conversation on the Holy Spirit, we discover that the Spirit is very much about enabling us to speak? To talk? To share our voice?
In our last post we showed how the NT describes the Spirit’s presence in our lives as with us, in us and on us. Today we move to two chapters in Acts that changed everything in regards to our understanding of the Spirit. The church was birthed on what we call the day of Pentecost; the day that the promised Holy Spirit fell upon the church. It’s a big deal. Both historically and today.
Three words frame Acts 1 & 2 for us: Power, Pentecost, and Purpose.
Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the disciples would receive power when the Holy Spirit came on them.
Jesus was about to ascend to heaven. In previous teaching and conversations he said he would leave the Holy Spirit for them…for us. Jesus promised us the power and the ability to launch the church forward.
This power comes from above, but is intended for below; it’s from heaven, but it’s for earth. The dialogue between the angels and disciples (1:10) shows us this when they ask, “Why are you looking up?” It’s as if they said, this power you’re about to receive is for here & now; for what you need to do here on earth (as it is in heaven).
We need this power. One writer says it like this, “The mystery of the church is that it is, by God’s good grace, more than it seems to be. The Holy Spirit is the more of the church.” It’s the power of the church, then and now.
Pentecost wasn’t the first time we see the Holy Spirit on the scene, but it was a fresh and new way for the Spirit to operate in the midst of community and of people. (Acts 2:1-4)
The church derives its meaning from the first Pentecost…
– originally the 50th day after Passover
– an agricultural festival (on the ground)
– farmers brought first crops (gratitude)
– looks pack to Exodus
– about God giving his people a new way of life
On this Pentecost…something new started…the church was born because of the Spirit’s arrival. So Pentecost was a look back at the past, with the purpose of launching forward.
In Genesis 1 the Holy Spirit breathed life into dust.
In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit breathed life into people and created a new community with the gift of bold speech.
As we read onward in Acts 2 we find some pretty interesting things happening. There’s definitely something interesting and mysterious about what transpires. People speaking in other languages, others visiting Jerusalem that day understanding the languages being spoken, Peter having the ability to speak/preach, a reminder from the prophet Joel that all kinds of people (young, old, male, female) will have something profound to say about God.
So what’s the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s arrival on the church? It’s to give the church the ability and the power to speak. That’s it? Didn’t we learn how to talk at two and three year’s old? Most of us did. Well, for the church, this was their early years, their formative years, and God sent them the power to speak, to talk, to proclaim, to communicate the good news of Jesus to the world.
Let’s not minimize the importance of this moment in the church’s history. The Holy Spirit enabled the church then (and now) to be people who communicate good news. There is definitely lots going on in this narrative, and perhaps even more than just about communication, but it’s definitely not less than that either.
It’s true that our actions often don’t match up with our words. We fail at this often. But we also fail at matching our words with our actions. What happens in Acts 1 & 2 is a reminder to us that one of the Spirit’s roles in our life is to enable us to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus – to communicate his message to the world. Do our lives have to match up? Yes. But our words should also be heard. The Spirit helps that happen.
“The Spirit is the power which enables the church to go public with its good news, to attract the world, and to have something to say worth hearing”
Let’s sum it up with this: Jesus promised Power at Pentecost for the Purpose of speaking life into the world through his church.
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small(er) group discussion:
Are you attracted to, scared of, or fearfully open to the Spirit’s Power and the adventure that comes with it?
What new thing could the Holy Spirit be initiating in you? What kind of movement might the Spirit be leading you towards?
In what way, through the Spirit’s power & help, can you communicate and be a witness to the ways of Jesus and his Kingdom?
Are their any parts of Acts 1 & 2 that are a little more difficult to understand?
What do you think about this statement? “When we pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’, it’s as if we pray, ‘Bring it on, shake us up, send us forth, kick us out, and make us a more interesting church then we would be if you had left us alone.”