This Sunday, the church marks Pentecost, fifty days after Easter. It was named after the Jewish festival of Pentecost, which came fifty days after Passover (that’s where the “pente” part comes in). It was the day the Holy Spirit was given to Jesus’ followers. You can read about it in Acts 2.1-13. When we talk about the giving of the Holy Spirit, our reading often stops there. But if you read on, you find some important events in the remainder of the chapter.
First, you see that the giving of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by bold preaching. The crowds thought the apostles were drunk when the Holy Spirit landed on them and they started speaking in unknown languages, but Peter corrected that assumption and proclaimed the good news of Jesus to all those people, using Old Testament Scriptures to back it up – passages that would have been well known to these Jewish onlookers.
Second, a strong sense of community developed among the believers. The disciples were concerned about Jesus’ ascension to haven, in no small part because they would be left alone. Of course, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be him with them, but they were worried. As the community developed, and the church was born, the early Christians realized that they needed each other to be a strong voice in a hostile world.
We can learn from the aftermath of Pentecost.
I believe that the circumstances of the church in western society today more closely resemble those of the early church than ever before. And if that’s the case, we do well to emulate the actions of the early church as we seek to be faithful to the Lord in our time.
So, Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living in and through you. You can share your faith boldly with others, knowing that while you may not have 100% success in leading people to faith, you will plant seeds that could later grow into faith. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel: share your faith with your friends and family, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the work of ensuring that those seeds of faith grow.
And make sure you are engaged in Christian community. The Christian faith is a team sport; being a “solo” follower of Jesus is antithetical to what the Bible tells us we should be. Make sure you are part of a church community. Worship together – in person, if you are physically able to do so. Engage in service together as much as your station in life permits. Study God’s Word together; at St. Paul’s, we have LifeConnect Groups that meet for both study and service, as well as “doing life” together. If you belong to another fellowship, I’m sure your church has small groups, too.
Be involved. Be active. Talk about your faith; believe it or not, your friends do kind of wonder about it. Being a follower of Jesus in our time is difficult enough! Don’t make it more difficult by trying to do it on your own.
In that sense, I suppose, we’re all “Pentecostal”!
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer” (Acts 2.42, NLT).