The early church seemed to have it good. Oh, I know they suffered persecution, but they had a clear knowledge of the Spiritís presence, and a clear guidance as to what they were supposed to do. They realised that they only needed to step out and Godís Spirit would do the rest. Any wonder their sense of community was great, and their times of worship were so powerful! I mean, it must have been so easy to believe back then. Theyíd seen Jesus at work, they had watched the unfoldings on the day of Pentecost, they prayed boldly and their prayers were answered. God was clearly at work and out of this encouragement their ministry flowed naturally.
In every generation, God has invited people to be part of His work in the world: to be part of creating something which does not merely echo the past, or simply ignore (or repeat) present realities. Godís invitation has always been to risk: to take up the challenge to live on earth in ways which show what God thinks to be important, and not merely succeeding better at the things which our culture values. This has never been an easy calling. In any generation of the church. In fact, there have been times when the church has been a part of the problem, and the Spirit of God has worked to renew the church. More often than we would care to admit. One only has to read the New Testament to realise that this has always been true. Itís a pattern that began way back in the Garden of Eden.
One mark of the day of Pentecost was confusion: something unexpected and dynamic was taking place: barriers were being broken down which unsettled people. Into this scene stepped a man whose previous response to such an event was awkward and way off the point. In stark contrast to the Transfiguration, Peterís words were right on the point. Into this moment stepped an unlikely figure whom God used. Mightily.
Peterís response on the day of Pentecost was not the first time, nor the last, when the church needed to respond to what the Spirit was doing, and grapple with its implications. They were as unsure and uncertain as we. Yet they were prepared to take the risks and follow the promptings of the Spirit, and learn as they went.
If we are to be people of the same Spirit today, our challenge is the same. As is our resourcing.
May 15, 2005