Forty days after Easter, Christians celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. Fifty days after Easter, Christians celebrate Pentecost—the coming of the Holy Spirit in a special way.
Jesus told the disciples he would not leave them alone, but instead, the Father would send the “Advocate” (John 14:26). In Greek, this word is “Paraclete.” It means not only Advocate but also Comforter, Intercessor, Helper, Aide, Guide.
This is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps guide us to a better understanding of who God is and who we are created to be. The Holy Spirit reveals God to us in a way that we can understand. The Holy Spirit is also an intercessor. The Spirit prays with sighs too deep for words when our own prayers fall short (Romans 8:26).
How did those gathered at the first Pentecost after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, know the Holy Spirit was present? Because of the miraculous way they heard each other.
It was the Miracle Hear!
“Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind” and all of Jesus’s disciples “began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:2,4). A crowd formed around them and each person heard the disciples speaking in the language they could understand. The crowd was amazed and said, “‘in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed” (Acts 2:8,12).
The miracle of Pentecost was not only about speaking in different languages it was also a miracle of hearing.
Those who were present didn’t have to give up their identities or their native language in order to hear about “God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11). Everyone was welcomed by the Spirit to hear the Gospel in their own language.
The body of Christ is remarkable for its unity and its diversity.
God, the Holy Spirit, makes it possible for us to be simultaneously united and diverse. I also believe the Holy Spirit makes it possible for me to embrace that diversity, if I want to.
The body of Christ is not a melting pot. God hasn’t required all of us to speak one language like Hebrew, or Greek, or Latin, or even English. Instead, God embraces our diversity.
In fact, God not only embraces our diversity, God creates our diversity.
God creates our diversity, but it is up to us to embrace it.
As I reflect on Pentecost this year, I’m praying that the Spirit will open not only my ears but also my heart to embrace the diversity of God’s creation.
For me, that means embracing people who are not of the same race, religion, creed, nationality, or sexual orientation as myself. Honestly? That part isn’t hard. The harder work for me is to embrace people who think differently than me.
In our politically charged and divisive time, am I willing to lean on the Spirit to open my heart to those who have different political views than me? In a time when my denomination seems poised to splinter, am I willing to lean on the Spirit to open my heart to those who choose not to be in covenant with me?
This work is so hard, so impossible, that I know only God can do it.
I’m praying for a Pentecost experience that opens my heart enough to love even those who have no love for me. I’m praying the Spirit will give me ears to hear about God’s deeds of power in the midst of trouble, confusion, and frustration.
What about you? What are you praying for this Pentecost? How do you (really) feel about the diversity of God’s creation? Wouldn’t it be easier if we all agreed on the important issues? Why don’t we? In what ways can our disagreements reveal something about God? Tell me what you think in the comments, in an email, or on Facebook.
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