We “celebrated” Pentecost at church today.
I put quotes around that word because I kept waiting for the pastor to pull a Paul Harvey. Paul was famous for giving us “the rest of the story.” Today, it seemed that an important part of The Story — the truly supernatural part — was left out… as if it really wasn’t there.
“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… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven…. each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “… How is it that each of us hears them… declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues?… What does this mean?” (Acts 2:1-12)
The focus of today’s sermon message was on the hearers — the fact that they had come to Jerusalem seeking and longing to encounter You, Lord. According to the pastor, it was the attitude of their hearts — their longing, their openness — that enabled them to hear the Truth when Your Good News was preached that day. To hear the Truth and respond to it. Peter preached a sermon that day with Your power… and 3,000 were added to their numbers!
Yes, the attitude of the heart is always crucial. But that wasn’t The Whole Story of Pentecost… was it, Lord? Your Holy Spirit was up to even more that day… and the “more” helped the hearers’ hearts be all the more disposed to the Message You desired to impart through Your servants.
I spoke with the pastor briefly after the service. It was on my heart to say, “It was BOTH AND.” Yes, the attitude of the hearers’ hearts was key. And Your Holy Spirit was the crucial force at work to enable people to recognize the true condition of their hearts — the justice of their separation from You, and their undeniable need for a Savior.
“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)
AND You, by Your Spirit, got their attention on the day of Pentecost in a way that left them no choice but to conclude “Something important is happening here!”
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4)
The early disciples — most of whom where common, ordinary, uneducated men and women — suddenly started speaking “the wonders of God” in languages they did not know??? It was enough to “rock” the world of those who heard!
“Utterly amazed, they asked: Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?… Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?'” (Acts 2:7-8,12)
The pastor’s immediate response to my statement (“Both And”) was “Yes, BUT… We have a tendency to focus too much on ourselves.” I understand the point she was making. We can get puffed up and think the salvation of another is all about us (what we say and do). But it is never about us… is it, Lord? It is always about Your Holy Spirit. In this case, by Your Spirit, hearts that were eagerly seeking you were poised to respond. AND, also by Your Spirit, You enabled Your servants to speak to those willing hearts in languages they did not know before that very moment!
I heard the reluctance today. Reluctance to believe the miracle of that long-ago moment. And, especially, to believe that such miracles continue to happen even now… filling our present-day moments in ways that rock our world and exhort us to pay careful attention because…. Something important is happening!
Oh, Lord… Help us have faith even as “large” as a mustard seed!
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20-21)
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
Eager for faith to believe it is BOTH / AND… !!!