Read: Acts 2:1-47
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4
Every year on July 4th people all across the country celebrate Independence Day – the birthday of our nation. We watch displays of fireworks (the brave among us set off our own fireworks!), we grill hamburgers and hotdogs, we throw parades, we wear red, white, and blue in honor of our national colors and we proudly display the flag of the United States of America. We might even attend a reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But no celebration or reenactment could even come close to actually being there – to actually witnessing the events leading up to the birth of our nation.
It’s kind of like that with today’s passage. Pentecost is the “birthday” of the modern church – of our church! We can read about Pentecost, we can study the history surrounding Pentecost, but it can’t come close to having been there. It’s hard to even picture the scene – a rushing wind, tongues of fire, everyone speaking out in different languages – I mean, this was seriously supernatural stuff!
It’s easy read about the birthday of the Church and feel a little discouraged – why don’t we get tongues of fire? Where are the people speaking in other languages? Where are the mass conversions and baptisms? Sometimes we might feel like we must be doing something wrong since we don’t see the undeniably supernatural events on a Sunday morning that the early church experienced. (Some of us may secretly be glad those things don’t happen on a Sunday morning or any other day of the week because in our culture, that stuff sounds a little scary! But I digress).
Take heart modern day Christian! The Holy Spirit is as alive and well and active in the church today as on the day of Pentecost. The activity may look different, it may not be as dramatic, but we can look at the world around us and at our own lives and see the power of the Holy Spirit in action. We shouldn’t necessarily expect God to work in the same way now as He did then. He’s just not that predictable. What is predictable, is that He will work in the lives of those who’s hearts are turned towards Him.
Are you experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? I read the following in the IVP New Testament Commentary Series: “If we are not so experiencing the Spirit’s filling, why? Have we met the conditions of expectant prayer and cleansed lives? That is Pentecost’s challenge. But what is its comfort? God has not abandoned his church. If he sent his Spirit before, he can do it again.”
Expectant prayer and cleansed lives. That’s the challenge. Well, it’s a challenge for me anyway, and I’m thinking I’m not alone : ). Are you praying expectant prayers? Are you continually laying your sin before the Cross and allowing Jesus to cleanse you? If not, let’s begin doing that today and see what happens!
Almighty God, thank you that you have not abandoned your church but that you’re living and active and working in power. Please fill me again with the Holy Spirit and give me eyes to see your work in my life, in the life of the Church, and in the lives of those around me. There is none like you, Lord! In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, amen.