The great event of Pentecost – the founding of a living church through the coming down of the Holy Spirit – is a challenge for us all. Through it we see that when the Spirit is poured out on a group of expectant disciples, something happens that affects the whole world. The expectation of the believers in Jerusalem was so great that three thousand others were added to their number in one day.
Today more than ever, when there are so many evil spirits at work – spirits of impurity and destruction, injustice, rebellion, and murder – we need the gift of the Holy Spirit. Whenever we are together, whether in our work, our worship, our singing, or our silence, we must await the Spirit. But we should expect it not only for ourselves – we must think in much greater terms. Let us pray for God’s spirit to break in over the godlessness of the whole earth. – J. Heinrich Arnold, ‘Discipleship – Living for Christ in the Daily Grind’. P252
I read this as a devotion before the Church Board meeting last night at church. Why? Well, I recently spent 10 days in Turkey. The first 7 days were effectively a holiday for my wife and I, and the remainder was my tribes regional meeting. The region is called Eurasia and covers a ridiculously large geographic area from Ireland across to Nepal. There were various presentations of what God is doing in countries and it was both very encouraging, but also saddening for some countries. Europe is generally on a downward slide, whereas there are countries, particularly in Asia, where planted seeds are obviously fruitful.
Why? I think it is a whole range of reasons, both historically and culturally, but amongst those is a word that stood out in the above quotation… the word is ‘expectation’. Do we expect God to respond to our concerns for injustice? Do we expect the Holy Spirit to be at work? Do we expect lives to be changed and to continue changing? Where is the hope that we proclaim in our daily lives?
I think one of the main questions that we should be asking ourselves is this… ‘Do we think the Holy Spirit has changed us, but now it is others that need to be changed instead?’ I hope people do not believe this, but I do hope that we live with the expectations that Christ has for us.