Pentecost: A Brave New Mission
Today we're celebrating Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’s first followers, empowering them for the mission of spreading the gospel to all the nations! Some say this is the birthday of the church, and it’s certainly an extravagant and extraordinary event for us to remember and be inspired by, even two thousand years later.
In case you’ve never quite understood Pentecost, do read the whole passage in the Bible - you can find it in Acts. It’s absolutely worth studying in more depth than we can touch on in today’s post. Let's set the scene:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)
Wow! Can you imagine being there? I love how extravagant and rich the scene is – the flames, the wind, the tongues, the languages, the absolute chaos and holiness and the tangible presence of God in all His power and His greatness. There is SO much I could write at this point, but I just want to touch on the two things that have most powerfully spoken to me.
1. God dwells in US!
John 14:17 tells us that God has given us the Holy Spirit to “dwell with [us] and be in [us]”. To ‘dwell’ means to settle permanently in a place or setting, to make your home there. This is mind-blowing! Thanks to Jesus’s resurrection, we are cleansed from our sin, and changed to the point that GOD can dwell in us.
It's not described as a temporary fix. God intends to dwell with us, to be in ongoing relationship with us, and excitingly – He intends for His Spirit to transform our hearts and be at work in our lives!
This is amazing news for a society like ours, where everybody craves so deeply to be connected all the time. I think that’s why we are so addicted to our phones and screens. We want our minds to always be entertained and not ‘bored’.
We all want to be with something or somebody that fulfils us – but so often we look for this in the wrong places: investing all our time in boyfriends that we think are cool and good-looking, placing our worth in how popular we are at school, wishing we had more followers on Instagram, or more money for better clothes and make-up.
But guess what – the gap was always meant to be filled by God. We were created to do life with God, to walk alongside Him, to praise Him, to worship Him. And with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us – this is a reality for us! We are made new by the amazing sacrifice of Jesus. We have constant access to our Father. What a privilege – what a God!
2. Our brave new mission
So, Pentecost means that we can be confident that God’s Spirit is dwelling in us. But what is our purpose, as we strive to be more like Jesus in our lives here on earth?
In Exodus 23:16, Pentecost is referred to as ‘a feast of harvest’. This is a beautiful picture - the Holy Spirit poured out to ‘harvest’ those 3000 people for God’s glory. These people were given an extremely important mission: the mission of spreading the news of the gospel across the world.
This is our same mission today: to evangelise the nations, and to introduce our friends to the God we know to be faithful and true. The Spirit is not only transforming our hearts, but gives us POWER to be bold, distinctive and outrageously loving to a world that desperately needs to know God’s saving grace too.
Tim Chester says this:
"We're not given a task that matches our powers. We're given power (the Spirit) that matches our task (winning the nations)."
All too often we fall into the trap of putting God in a ‘box’. Limiting God to our own powers, our own expectations. One thing to take away from the amazing, rich and crazy story of Pentecost is that God works in ways that are above and beyond our understanding. And most incredibly of all - this SAME POWER now lives in us.
So, never underestimate the power of the Spirit at work in your heart. Never doubt that God will give you the power you need, to do the work He intends you to do: whether this is being bold in speaking to girls at school about Jesus, volunteering with the homeless, sitting with the unpopular people at lunchtime, going out of your comfort zone to lead a prayer meeting or making a change in your behaviour. God is with you! He will make you brave!
God’s Spirit is dwelling with us, transforming us, and giving us POWER instead of fear.
Having graduated in June 2015, Lucy is adjusting to graduate life after three amazing years in the city of Durham. She feels very fortunate to be working in Marketing for a great company in Cambridge, whilst still working part-time overseeing and developing More Precious. Lucy is getting married next month!