Summary: Basedon Acts 2:1-21, this sermon talks about how our attitude about the Holy Spirit affects our ability to let the Spirit work in our lives.
I know many of you won’t want to admit it, but I bet there are passages in the Bible that you don’t particularly care for. Not because they cut too deep or because you don’t understand them, but simply because they don’t excite you. Well, I have a confession to make. When I first found out that I’d be preaching on this particular passage, I was disappointed. It’s a passage I’ve read a thousand times, and to be honest, it just bores me. Tongues of fire, speaking different languages, blah blah blah. It held no basis in reality for me. I mean, the Holy Spirit doesn’t act that way anymore. I’ve never seen a tongue of fire. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a phenomenon like the disciples speaking in all those languages. I didn’t want to talk about the Holy Spirit, I didn’t want to talk about Pentecost. I wanted to talk about something that actually MEANS something in our every-day lives. Holy Spirit? Bah humbug. What’s THAT got to do with real life?
Then a small voice, just outside my head, asked, “What does your attitude about the Holy Spirit have to do with real life?”
Attitude? ME? I certainly do NOT have an attitude! (See, this is the part where I argue with the small voice.)
“Yes, you do,” the voice says, calmly and patiently (which incidentally, is how I know the small voice is not me, you see.) “Listen to yourself! ‘This is unrealistic, things like this just don’t happen to people!’ How exactly is that different than the non-believers saying ‘These men must be drunk!’?
Well, it just is!
“Read it again,” says the small voice. “Find the real life in it.”
So I did, I read it again, and again, and again. And at some point I realized I wasn’t really reading anymore; I was having an idea. And the idea was this:
“Hey, if I’m having trouble getting into the Holy Spirit, how many other people are having the same problem?”
“Ah, now you’re getting it,” said the small voice. “Go speak their language.”
So what’s our problem with the Holy Spirit anyway?
Maybe sometimes, we just don’t don’t ‘get’ the Holy Spirit thing. I mean, he does some pretty weird stuff in the Bible right? Those tongues of fire, loud wind, doves landing on people’s heads and the like. Kinda hard to miss that stuff when it’s going on. I’m going to take a wild guess that nothing like that has ever actually happened to any of you. How are we supposed to know the Holy Spirt is even there?
I’d like to read you something I discovered while researching this sermon:
“The aspects of Pentecost that marked the inauguration of the Spirit's presence indiscriminately among the people of God appear to have fulfilled their purpose in the first Pentecost. We should not necessarily expect to see them again. The external signs of sound and sight and the foreign languages fall into this category. But in any age we should expect to find a church filled with the Holy Spirit, powerfully enabled to bear witness to Christ and his gospel.”
Ah, ok, so that’s how we know he’s there – the church is filled with people powerfully enabled to bear witness to Christ and his Gospel. Well, that’s not so weird. I’m sure we all know a lot of people, who bear powerful witness to Christ and the Gospel all the time. Heck, sometimes, that’s even us! So maybe the Spirit is filling us after all, but we just don’t take the time to notice it.
So ok, sometimes we get that quiet, behind-the-scenes spirit. We know the spirit works in little ways in our lives every day. And we’re ok with that.
Yep – ok. That Holy Spirit is ok. As long as he stays in the background and doesn’t give us any urges to dance or shout or raise our hands above the shoulders during worship…well then that Spirit is just ok with us. After all, we don’t go in for all that jumping around, speaking in tongues, dancing in the aisles, shoutin’ Halleluia mumbo-jumbo. Well, that just wouldn’t be church-like, now would it?
Maybe, then, the problem isn’t that we don’t ‘get’ the Holy Spirit. It’s that we have a lot of trouble letting the Holy Spirit “get” us. Maybe our problem is that the Spirit’s presence, in any more than a supporting role, makes us uncomfortable.
Can I get an Amen?
Be honest now – how many of you can identify with this story:
A guy hears a song in church that really moves him. He really feels the Spirit working in him for a few minutes. For a moment, he even wants to lift his hands into the air and just go with the Spirit…