Acts 2, 5-8
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
The disciples might have been willing to wait until the promised Holy Spirit came, but once the advocate was among them, they didn’t stay there for long.
Soon, the place they had been in could contain them no longer. They had to get out. Out on to the streets where the people were. Out among the people where they could be seen and heard.
Out where the Holy Spirit’s transforming fire gathered momentum and impact as it moved outwards from Jesus’ original followers to wider and wider circles of influence.
The catalyst for this exit plan happened in verse 5. With characteristically perfect timing, God had brought Jews from many different nations to Jerusalem for their feast of Pentecost.
What is described here is a very practical gift – people from different countries hear the good news of Christ in their own language so they can understand it and carry it back to their nation.
But it’s also very personal. The gospel is communicated in a way that they can understand it. Quite simply, the love of God crosses the boundaries of nationality, language, and social background, to speak to diverse, individual hearts.
It is also no respecter of boundaries, foreshadowing Paul’s teaching in letters such as Galatians (3:28), all divisions and distinctions of person become irrelevant in Christ – all are welcomed whether established, religious Jews, or newly converted ‘proselytes’.
A couple of years ago the Pentecost Festival in London coined the phrase ‘the church has left the building’. If only this phrase was more widely true of us all.
The faith we profess is personal, but it is personal to each and every person. The early church knew that what had been given to them at Pentecost was to be given away – not kept to themselves.
After all, staying just with each other when they had been given a miraculous gift to make the gospel known just wouldn’t have made sense.
Are we willing to play our part in continuing this work? Are we willing to leave the comfort of our church buildings and pour out God’s love in the world – for the sake of all who are poor, broken, or waiting for good news?
Something to do
Think of someone you know, or have come across, who is simply really different to you, or who is excluded by others as a result of their race, background, religion or reputation.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray for this person, that they would experience God’s love through community; be open to act on any practical steps you could take to help them that come to mind. Again, ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, so that you can do all things with love.
Something to pray
Wonderful counsellor I ask you to fill me and change me.
Take me beyond myself.
Let me so grasp your love that I cannot contain it,
And instead resolve to share it.
Wonderful counsellor I ask you to fill us and change us.
Take us beyond ourselves.
Help your church to step out of her comfort zones and cosy buildings
And share your multilingual love across all boundaries, and with all peoples.
Lead us to partner with you until we see healing where there is pain, satisfaction where there is hunger, and freedom where there is oppression.
Today’s contributor is Liz Baddaley, a former staff member of Christian Aid. She is a worship leader, song-writer, freelance writer and editor specialising in Bible study and worship resources for charities. She is also the co-founder ofwww.thesanctuarycentre.org