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The power of Pentecost: reaching beyond barriers

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On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And every one present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:1-2&4

As the precursor to all the Acts that the disciples did in Jesus name, Pentecost demonstrates the importance of truly seeking God. Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and then be his witnesses. It was not until they took the time to wait on God’s gift that they would truly be ready to do his work. Yet I know I am often guilty of getting too busy to seek God and consequently, I end up relying on my own power to do his work. When I do so, I am not only selling myself (and God) short, but I am also inviting frustration. Have you ever wondered why you are not a more effective witness for Christ? Why you never seem to be able to find opportunities to live out his call in radical ways? I have asked these questions and become frustrated with my shortcomings. But the truth is that on my own, I will always fail. In my own power, there are things I am not strong or courageous enough to do. Pentecost should serve as a reminder that—if we want to have the power to be witnesses for Christ—we need to take time, just as the disciples did, to seek God’s counsel and supernatural strength.

Pentecost is also the reversal of the tower of Babel. When man tried to reach God in his own power (by building a sky-scraper to heaven) God confused the languages, making it impossible for all men to communicate on the same level. But when the disciples came together and simply waited on God, this confusion was reversed by the power of the Holy Spirit, whose special language brought together those who were estranged by the barrier of language (see verses 7-12). Once again, we see the theme of God’s power–it is only with his help that we can reach through the barriers that divide us from others.

On this Pentecost, I would like to challenge us to look at our Christian witness through fresh eyes. If we were truly living through God’s power, how would our interactions with the world around us differ? What barriers could we break through if we were seeking God’s strength to communicate and reach out to the broken world around us?

This is the question posed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, in an article discussing Pentecost and Shavot, the Jewish festival from which Pentecost takes its roots. Waskow points out that “both of these festivals look beyond the narrow boundaries of nation, race, or class,” and his analysis of Ruth’s story is spot-on for our society today. As you seek the power of the Holy Spirit in your own life, I encourage you to read Waskow’s article, and ask God how you can live out Shavot in your community.


Written by liferenewed

May 31, 2009 at 9:00 pm

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