Summary: The Holy Spirit was given to 1. enable us to experience God. 2. to empower us to live for God. 3. to make us a part of a kingdom.
The sign next to the expressionless face said: “The Motionless Man: Make Him Laugh. Win $100.” So several people gave it all they had. For hours they pulled their faces into strange contortions, told jokes, made fun of him, did stunts — but nothing worked. He was totally unmoved and his face showed no expression. Bill Fuqua, the Motionless Man, is the Guinness Book of World Records champion at feeling and doing nothing. In fact, he appears so motionless during his routines at shopping malls and amusement parks that he is sometimes mistaken for a mannequin. When I heard about Bill Fuqua, I thought of a lot of church folk I know. They have mastered the art of feeling nothing and doing nothing. Someone told them a long time ago that you could be emotional about some things, but religion wasn’t one of them. You never know what is going on inside. The few times there is an expression on their face is when they frown because someone clapped or said “Amen” in church.
But if you read the book of Acts, the New Testament church was anything but expressionless. It was full of emotion, enthusiasm and power. People were coming to Christ in large numbers because of the faithful witness of the people who claimed the name of Christ. In fact, as we read in the Scripture today, they were so expressive that people made fun of them and thought they had too much wine. There was so much joy that people who did not know Christ could not understand it. There is a reason that the words joy and rejoicing are abundantly sprinkled throughout the book of Acts.
It’s interesting isn’t it, that the church of today is perceived as uptight and robbing people of the joy of life, when the opposite was true in the early church. They were accused of having too good of a time — so much so that they were accused of being drunk. It was the only way the world could explain it. Unfortunately, there is very little which is unexplainable about most churches today. The church today is accused of being boring, and many people feel they have enough boredom in their lives. But the church of that day was so radical and exciting that people were being drawn to it by the thousands. Listen to just a few of the verses that talk of the growth of the early church: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41). “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47). “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). There are over a dozen places in the book of Acts which talk about great numbers coming to Christ at one time. And this was due to the work of the Holy Spirit, and the radiant and powerful lives of God’s people.
We in the modern day church have done such a good job of controlling our emotions that we have almost eliminated them. Some have kept their desires in check so long that you might think they no longer have desires. We have formalized our religion and practiced such restraint that the world sees little to desire from us. C. S. Lewis writes these amazing and insightful lines, “Indeed, if we consider the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
As I began to think about Pentecost and the meaning of the Holy Spirit, I wanted to think again about the reality of the Holy Spirit and the reason that God sent his Spirit into the world. When I asked why the promise of the Holy Spirit was given, I came up with three answers. The first is: The Promise was given to help us experience God. This is a wonderful thing. Think about the fact that we serve a God who wants us to experience him. He wants a relationship with us that is intimate, real and full of emotion. Think about the fact that God has designed us to desire human relationships that are intimate, real and full of emotion. If we were made in God’s image, we can be sure that he wants that same kind of relationship with us.