Summary: A backwards look at what Christianity is supposed to look like.
A young pastor was frustrated by how things weren’t “happening” in his church and so he asked one of the deacons what the problem was. “Is it ignorance or is it apathy?” he asked. The deacon responded, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
Look, we’ve been in the church long enough that we know what it takes to be a good Christian, right? So this morning, I thought I’d have some fun with you, and show you how not to act like a believer. Now understand that this sermon is given, partially in jest, but also so that in seeing how we shouldn’t be, that we better understand what living faith ought to be.
If you don’t want people to know you’re a believer, don’t get together with other Christians. (c.f. Hebrews 10:25) Forget that God tells the church not to forsake gathering together. Why would we want to do that? Maybe you say, “I can sleep better at home, and the chairs are more comfortable there, so why bother with church?” And if you’re feeling miserable, who wants to be responsible for bringing other people down? None of us want to be like the young mother who drops her infant off in the nursery saying, “I don’t know if he’s teething or just sick. He was up all night crying and vomiting, he’s a little warm, but I just wanted a break. I’ll be back in an hour . . . maybe.”
The worst thing we could do when we feel alone and isolated is ask for help. We’re tough enough, aren’t we? Verse 1 tells us that when Pentecost came, the believers were already gathered in one place. They’d decided that whatever difficulty was upon them, that they were going to stick it out together rather than beat feet out of Dodge. Is that what the church is really about? Does God want His people to laugh and cry together? Does He want us to lighten the load of those around us? Nah! If we’d help others feel better who’d be left to encourage us? Certainly not the other 100 or so people in the congregation. That’d be too easy.
Of course, if you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re a believer you should never pray. After all, everybody knows that prayer is just for preparation, and after you pray the real work starts. Forget that the disciples were constantly in prayer before the Holy Spirit came. Forget that the Lord told them to wait until power came. We know that even if we don’t know what to do we should be involved. We’ve all heard people tell us not just to stand there, but to do something.
And who knows how to pray anyway? What do words like thou, and beseech mean anyway? Why is it that Joe Average who’s more than willing to haul you down to the local fishing hole talks with God like he’s an Elizabethan actor?
By all means, never make a scene. We aren’t supposed to draw attention to ourselves. From early on, parents desperately try to teach their children to sit still and be quiet . . . especially in a church building. We don’t want people to stare at us. We don’t want them to talk about us.
Do you notice that as the church is gathered that God singles them out. Fire dancing on your head is definitely better than a spotlight aimed at you. I’m wondering what happened when people first saw the flames. Did they jump around and try to put them out? That scene could have been better than a Three Stooges movie! I mean, who expects fire? Okay, besides God?
And what is it with Him and fire anyway? Why are the angels who minister in His presence called Seraphim, or burning ones? What is this passionate speech that comes from His servants? Why do the prophets say that when they try not to talk because of the rejection they face that God’s Word burns in their bones until it has to come out (Jeremiah 20:7-9)?
We don’t want to call attention to ourselves. After all, if we did that, people might look at us, and if they looked at us, who knows what they’d see. They might actually get interested in the way the Lord is working here, they might even want to join in. Wouldn’t that be terrible?
Don’t use language people understand. We live in Christian circles. Even people in the world understand the euphemisms, don’t they?
At Pentecost, a whole mess of things happened. One of those things was noise . . . lots of it. People were speaking at the same time in lots of different languages. The people watching heard what was being said in their own languages.