Understanding among God’s people
“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.” (New International Version – Acts 2:1-4)
That the first witness of the apostles came in tongues of different languages is of great significance especially in the modern world. We tend to forget that the tongues were the dialects of residents of various nations as listed in the Scripture passages of the second chapter of Acts. We are reminded that God empowered the witnesses to tell of His love to all the world and in doing so, remind them of the diversity of God’s children.
The gospel of John records the verse most memorable concerning to whom God’s love is given and how challenging it was to accomplish: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in his should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Yet too often statements made by faithful Christians lack an understanding of the wideness of God’s love and God’s kingdom on earth.
It is this lack of understanding that puts aside issues of justice and mercy and we fail to be the nation our forefather’s envisioned. We were to be great not due to earthly leadership of divinely appointed or elected rulers. Our greatness would be in our adherence to the ways of the Lord given through the witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian community, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Pentecost is a reminder of the miracle of God’s presence within individuals to be advocates for the message of God’s love in the midst of diverse communities and diverse understandings of the will of God in the world. I say the witnesses is one that is empowered because it is a witness that clashes with the ways of the world. It is a witness that is not heard with great favor and many Christians are weak in their witness. How great it would be for the Church today to experience the violent wind swirling around and feel the empowering fire of the Spirit.
The Spirit of God was promised by Jesus to guide and direct the witness of love. The Holy Spirit is our present shield and defender against evil faced in our personal lives and beyond. Whereas it is easier to throw up our hands in capitulation to the evils of injustice that happen beyond our personal lives; it is a greater virtue to gather expectantly in one place and be empowered to establish the foundation of justice and mercy throughout the world for all persons. Turning the other cheek; accepting that the last may be first; and to love others, including persons unlike ourselves, as God has loved us is a spiritual challenge. Yet, it is a challenge upon which the Church is founded.
We can be the greatest foundation for future generations if Christians, empowered by the Holy Spirit will be open to hear and to speak in the languages of those by whom we feel threatened. The languages of culture, tradition, and history have been the foundation of distrust, anger and resentment. The safety we desire in schools, in neighborhoods and peace in the world between all peoples is not possible simply because it is desirably expressed in our private prayers. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, safety and peace will come through faithful Christian witness and work in public ways. This is the desire of the one God of all creation whom we know through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Your servant in Christ,
SAM ASKEW is the pastor of Windsor Congregational Christian Church. Contact him at 242-4794.