Pentecost is this Sunday, June 4th, and I am feeling a need to write about why we should care about Pentecost. I need to be honest. I am a little intimidated to write about Pentecost. It’s been written about many, many times by people much more clever and much more learned than I am. Do we really need something else? Yet, I am hearing the call from my Pops to write why Pentecost is important to me. Nothing God asks for is without a purpose, so I trust that something I have to say will be what someone needs to hear. Perhaps it is you? If you are thinking, “I already know all about Pentecost — no need to read and further”, spend a moment in prayer to see if God move you to keep reading.
If you don’t know what Pentecost is, here it is in a nutshell. For Christians, Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. It is seen as the birth of the Christian Church. After his death and resurrection Jesus spent time on earth with his disciples before ascending to the Father. Ten days after his ascension, was Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given:
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they [Jesus’ disciples] were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4, English Standard Version
For me, Pentecost belongs right up there with the “big” Christian Holidays of Christmas and Easter. Christmas: when God became incarnate in the birth of Jesus; Easter: when Jesus was raised from the dead and thereby conquered death that we may have live; and Pentecost, when the indwelling of Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, began for believers. That indwelling of Holy Spirit within us continues through today.
It may be tempting to focus on (and debate!) the “[speaking] in other tongues”, But that is not the central message of Pentecost. If is a story of transformation and empowerment. Peter, as an example of the early believers, who had denied even knowing Jesus on Good Friday; who had seemed to give up and returned to his job as a fisherman prior to meeting the resurrected Jesus; who, on Pentecost, after receiving the Holy Spirit, preaches an impromptu sermon that results in three thousand people becoming Christians! That seems like a a pretty significant transformation.
In some ways it reflects my own transformation. Not that I’m a world changer by any stretch of the imagination. But the very fact that I am writing this is an indication of my transformation. My “natural self” would just as soon be left alone and leave you alone. I would ponder the meaning of Pentecost, come to my conclusions, and then keep them to myself. You can do your own pondering and conclusion drawing!
However, I have the spirit of God dwelling within me. And that spirit trumps and transforms the “natural me”. He calls me to share my thoughts, in this blog, in the book I am writing, and in sermons I preach. He calls me to share and to help guide others through the ministry of Spiritual Direction. It is not what I wanted to do; it is what I am called to do. Jesus told his disciples Holy Spirit is the power given to us, so that we might make him known.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8, English Standard Version
How important is the Holy Spirit to the Christian believer? It is important enough that Jesus told his disciples it was better for them to receive the Holy Spirit then to have him remain with them.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7, English Standard Version
Holy Spirit is not an optional extra to have along with your Jesus. He is the very spirit of Christ given to empower and enlighten us. If you don’t know Holy Spirit, perhaps this Pentecost would be the time to invite him to make himself know to you!
(If you were one of the people who needed to read this, and it spoke to you, would you be kind enough and brave enough to leave a comment?)