I love Pentecost. I honestly wish the Church (but not the wider commercial world) celebrated it more. But more than celebration, I wish we heeded the call of Pentecost more.
Before we go any further though, please head over and read Acts 2. You know, for context!
For me, the call of Pentecost is two-fold. First of all, it is not a coincidence that God sent the Holy Spirit on the Jewish Harvest festival. This is the day that God sent the disciples out officially to start following The Great Commission, by equipping them with the Holy Spirit. We see the disciples, particularly Peter, doing things that we did not think them capable of. The message is clear. God does NOT send out those He calls without help. Acts 2:38 even says that new believers will have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, the disciples were not the only people God planned to equip to send out.
Pentecost is a call to step out, knowing that God has equipped us.
Secondly, it is a call to do the unexpected. No one expected much from fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and whatever the other disciples did as their day jobs. They weren’t world changers, trail blazers, or even policy makers. When you think about it, are you really surprised that people thought that they were drunk?
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,Acts 2:17-21 / Joel 2:28-32
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Peter refers to this passage from Joel as an explanation for their unexpected behaviour. He explains how the prophet foretold that in the last days, God would pour out His Spirit on to His children… which is exactly what we see happening! But here is the crazier part: WE ARE STILL IN THE LAST DAYS! So God is still pouring out His Spirit on us.
Does this mean that we will prophesy, see visions, and have dreams from God? I’m not a theologian, Bible scholar or minister of any kind so I don’t want to give a firm conclusion. Plus I’m pretty comfortable being sat on the fence of that question.
What I do believe is that accepting the Holy Spirit means being willing to do the unexpected and the weird. It means listening to the nudges when they come; stepping out in faith even if we will look like a fool.
I say all this as a total hypocrite, having ignored those nudges and regretted it. I still regret ignoring one nudge to offer prayer to a girl on the bus who was obviously really upset and angry with a relationship. The sad but honest thing is that I will probably ignore more nudges to come. I will be too scared about looking foolish. I guess you’re probably in the same boat. But that is not the boat or life that we were called to when we said ‘YES’ to Jesus. We are called out of the boat, to do the impossible and unexpected ‘walking on water‘ things in life.
Every year Pentecost is a reminder that the Church started when a bunch of unassuming, and scared, people did the unexpected in faith. They stepped out, knowing that God had their backs. Don’t let their actions just be part of a fun story about how the Gospel began to be spread across the world. This reminder is a call to us to follow in their steps. To do the unexpected, knowing that God’s Holy Spirit is with us all the way.
Consuming fire fan into flame,Consuming Fire, Tim Hughes (2004)
A passion for Your Name,
Spirit of God fall in this place,
Lord have Your way,
Lord have Your way with us,