Summary: This is a Pentecost sermon.
The late 1960s was a time of great disunity in our nation. People were protesting the war in Vietnam. Race riots occurred in many major cities. Upheaval was prevalent on college campuses. Meanwhile, in baseball, the New York Mets had been the laughingstock of Major League Baseball for the better part of decade. The Mets came into existence in 1962 to replace the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, both of whom had split for California in the late 1950s. They were awful, losing over 100 games for several years. Then in the summer of 1969 the Amazin’ Mets shocked sports fans everywhere. They earned a spot on baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series. The veteran Baltimore Orioles expected to make quick work of the young, upstart Mets. To further confound sports fans, the Mets beat the formidable Orioles 4 games to 1 to capture the first world championship for the New York’s newest team.
Outside of a few very young pitchers who would become famous later in their careers, there were no stars on the Mets. Guys like Cleon Jones and Ron Swoboda dominated the headlines of the World Series in ’69, but they are long forgotten.
The Mets had a unity. They were a team. They had the same goals. No one hogged the spotlight. They knew what no one else knew, they had the prospect of winning the World Series. They played together for that common goal. White men and black men in an age of racial unrest put aside differences to work for the common goal. Men from across the country and from foreign lands came together to play a part in the larger picture. None of those guys could have carried a team, but when they worked together, they won.
Turn with me to Acts 2.
Read Acts 2:1-21.
There are four aspects of unity that we see here. Four things that brought a motley crew of fishermen, a tax collector, carpenters, a former political radical, and others, including several women, together to change the world and light a fire that has been burning for nearly 2000 years now. The first aspect of unity is…
I. The LOCAL unity of the Church.
At this point, it may be helpful to establish a timeline here. The feast of Passover was the Jewish celebration of the nation’s deliverance from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. It is associated with the death of Jesus, Good Friday through Easter Sunday. After Jesus rose again, we are told that he appeared to the disciples for forty days.
The day of Pentecost is 50 days after the Passover. It was the Jewish celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. So it is fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus, which was ten days after he ascended to heaven. We read in Acts chapter 1 that Jesus told the disciples that would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. They waited 10 days. Verse 1 tells us, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.”
A. They had different PURSUITS and VOCATIONS.
Acts 1:13-14 tells us, “And they had entered the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Verse 15 tells us that there were about 120 people present. Some were fishermen, like Peter, James and John. Matthew had been a tax collector. Simon had been a political subversive. Jesus’ brothers were present, and it is likely that they had been in the carpentry trade. These were people with different backgrounds and different outlooks on life. There was no reason for them to be together. But…
B. They had a common REASON and MOTIVE to be together.
There was something deep down in each one of these people that kept them together for this extended period of time. They knew that Jesus had promised them something, and they were waiting and praying for it.
1. They looked beyond THEMSELVES.
They found support and encouragement with each other. They knew that there was something bigger than each individual and bigger than even the group as a whole.
2. They had the power of a UNIFIED witness.
Together they were more powerful. One individual may have been written off as a crackpot, but a group can offer a more unified witness.
We are to be unified. We have a variety of pursuits and vocations. We have a schoolteacher, a car dealer, a boat maker, a welder and others. We should be kept together by the thought that there is something bigger than each of us, individually. We have the power of a unified witness. Our reason and motive is the advancement of the Kingdom of God. That brings us to the second aspect of unity. That is…