Summary: A Pentecost Sunday message, challenging us to invite one more person to worship and bring one more to Jesus. The experience of Pentecost is not ancient history, it should be today’s reality.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you may have noticed an article in the newspaper a few days ago about a British mountain climber David Sharp who collapsed during his descent from Mount Everest due to lack of oxygen.
Such tragic event in itself is not so unusual. The area above 26,000 feet is referred to as the death zone. Oxygen levels are only a fraction of what they are at sea level, and the temperature drops to a hundred below zero, with gale-force winds. A very harsh environment.
What is so shocking about this story is that around forty other climbers walked right by David Sharp on their way to the summit, ignoring him because they didn’t want to jeopardize their own ascent. Only the team of New Zealanders stopped by David to give him some of their own oxygen, but it was too late. Within a short time, David Sharp was dead.
Sir Edmund Hillary who was on the team that first conquered Mt. Everest in 1953, called the report “horrifying.” He comes from an era where a dying climber would be abandoned only when the rescue threatened other lives.
Times have changed. Climbing Mount Everest has become big business. People are paying tens of thousands of dollars for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and the Sherpa guides are under tremendous pressure to deliver.
What if you were one of those mountain climbers coming upon David Sharp? Would you stop to help a dying man, or would you go on protecting your investment? Some of the climbers who had passed him by later commented that Sharp appeared unprepared for his solo climb. He had limited supply of oxygen, the wrong kind of gloves – well duh! It was his own fault! I am sure they had even more valid excuses, still – I think we expect a greater degree of compassion from our fellow human beings.
The story sounded pretty outrageous, until I realized that I have been doing the same thing. I have been passing by people who have collapsed due to lack of spiritual oxygen. Neighbors, acquaintances, even relatives whom I left behind gasping for air of forgiveness, acceptance, and hope. “But it’s their own fault!” one might say. I mean, there are plenty of churches in town. And they have nice big signs showing times of services. And don’t most churches advertise in every Friday’s paper? And aren’t there television preachers and Joyce Meyer, too? Bookstores have plenty of Bibles on the shelf. So, what’s the problem? If somebody goes to meet their Maker unprepared, it’s their own fault, right? As for me, I have my supply of oxygen, I am on my way to the top. Good for me. Still, others expect a greater degree of compassion for my fellow human beings.
Well, folks, I will be in your face today, and my own too, because today is Pentecost Sunday, a reminder that Jesus does not want us to pass by anybody, but with the Spirit’s help bring them to the fold.
Pentecost Sunday is a day of celebration for all Christians. This is the birthday of the Christian Church. This is the anniversary of the day in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon a small groups of disciples who proclaimed the Gospel in languages people could understand and identify with. The result? An explosion of growth. 3,000 new believers were added to the membership roll.
When we read the powerful account of this in the second chapter of Acts, we wish things like that happened in today’s times. Well, they are happening in today’s times! Four weeks ago some of us went to hear Jackson Senyonga, a pastor from Uganda, who shared about the spiritual transformation of his country since the days of Idi Amin’s tyranny. Amazing things are happening in Uganda. Brother Jackson started a church with his wife and a few friends. Two weeks later they had 2,000 people at worship! Each week, he said, they had to push out the walls and extend the building to fit in more people. Now they have 20,000 at worship on any given Sunday and most people walk to church, some four hours.
Pastor Senyonga laughingly said that the church has become so packed that he had to ask people not to tell anyone about Jesus for a while because they have no more room. He said, “For once in your life, keep your faith to yourselves! When you go to church, sneak out of your house so that nobody would see you.”
Now the congregation has just leased the soccer stadium and will be able to accommodate 50,000 worshippers on Sunday. Pentecost is still happening today. It is happening in Uganda and it is happening elsewhere. Why not here in Kingman? Why not here in Kingman? Is the power of prayer effective only in Africa? Of course not! Is the Holy Spirit forbidden to descend upon our town and cause a transformation to take place? No! So, what’s the hold up? Could it be that we are still sitting in the “upper room” behind locked doors? It’s time to hit the streets, folks!