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Sep 02, 2018

This is Us: Pneuma

This is Us: Pneuma

Passage: Acts 2:1-6

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: This is Us

Category: Faith, Power, life

Keywords: life, faith, power

The church isn't you and I; the church is of God. Begun by God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture

The Message, Acts 2:1-7

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Devotional

Sometimes when I read a familiar story in the Bible, my attention is drawn to the supernatural action. The wind, the flames, the languages are all very intriguing. They speak of what could be observed. When I read it this way, it becomes a story, a fixed point in time. It is history. That was then, but this is now. I do myself a disservice when I marvel at the miraculous but fail to dig for the deeper meaning.

Why did this happen and what does it say about what God is doing in the world? When I read the Bible, I try to look at the biblical story as a whole and look for parallels in my own life.

Going all the way back to the beginning. I, like Adam and Eve, have the very breath of God animating my being. It means that I am somehow different than the rest of the created world. I can function just like an animal and choose to focus on my survival and the survival of my children. But I have the breath of God in me, which means I can rise above mere survival and use my gifts for the betterment of the whole of creation.

That, in my opinion, it the story of the Old Testament. Know the Creator, follow his laws and be a blessing to the whole world. And I see parallels in my own faith journey. As a child, I knew about God. I thought I was on His side. But like the children of Israel, I botched up the execution. Being on God’s side does not mean fighting wars on His behalf or browbeating others into agreeing with my view.  Too often I fall short because I am not on God’s side, instead I think that God is on my side. It doesn’t work that way.

God is full of grace. The Bible moves through history, into the Gospels. And so, I move to the next phase of my journey. God clothes himself in humanity and walks in our midst. Those living in his time heard his words and observed his actions.  I observe Jesus when we read the Gospels. When God becomes one of us, he does not act like a king. He acts like a servant. This is a radical change in perspective. This is not top down leadership. Jesus does not give out of the wealth of a king. But creates abundance in the midst of poverty.

When I see the life of Jesus, I am compelled to look at Him. Just like the disciples, I want to bask in His presence. And share in His triumphs.

But when I read this week’s text, I read of a sea of change. I am at the end of the Gospels. Jesus’ followers have been on a roller coaster ride. The servant king has died. But He rose again!  Something new is cooking. But then, 40 days later, he ascended into heaven. 

Now what?

The wind, the fire and the languages…

Beyond all the pyrotechnics, something amazing happens. People.  Ordinary people like you and me are transformed into the Body of Christ, The Church. I am no longer just a follower like in the Old Testament. I am no longer just an observer, like in the Gospels.  There is no more I. As Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ; Never the less, I live.” We are transformed into the living embodiment of Christ. We are His hands. We are His feet. We are His body. We are the Church. We are now a part of an unending chain. Servants of the world. And in a real sense, like the title of Pastor Chris's sermon series, “This is us!”

Prayer: 

As we draw each breath, let Your spirit move within us. Help us to remember that we are Your body. Where there is suffering, use us to ease the pain. Where there is need, let us serve. Open our eyes to Your Kingdom on Earth, so that we might show others the way.  Let our lives be a blessing. And when our time here has ended, may the world we leave reflect the place where we will spend eternity with You.  Amen

Written by Ben Roberts. Ben leads one of the Men's Ministry groups. He lives in Ashburn with his wife Jennifer and their son Ethan.