The Gift and the Responsibility

Good Sunday. I’d like to share a word with you, as I always do on Sundays, that isn’t about a virus 🙂

Dateline, 1st century. The church in the Near East is very young and very confused. Jesus is gone, and He has left His apostles to watch the house. In Acts 2, the text describes a wind that blows through the meeting area of the remnant, those that still believed in Jesus at that time. Peter and John were there, and they no doubt recognized what had happened while the rest of the group seemed very confused. Don’t worry – I’m not targeting “speaking in tongues” today 🙂 Instead, I’m talking about Peter’s explanation to the crowd and his use of the prophet Joel.

In Acts 2, beginning in verse 14, Peter says:“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Let’s focus on something often missed at this point – these are Jews in the room. That is very important. People always focus on the language part of this event, that everyone in the room heard people speaking in their own language. Note that the text DOES NOT say that people were speaking in different languages other than their own. The effect was on the hearer, not the speaker. The symbolism of this moment is profound. The Jews have, in a flash, watched God open their faith, their birthright, to all people. Those in the room don’t just claim to be hearing their own language, they claim to be hearing these people proclaiming the wonders of God. Non-Jews speaking divine revelation! It must have been a massive shock, so it is easy to see how they would just rationalize it away as “drunk talk.”

But Peter admonishes them and begins to explain how this was a fulfillment of God’s promise and Christ’s words to make the Kingdom exclusionary based on only one criteria: belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. To show how profound this moment was, let me take the first part of Joel’s prophecy and write it in “expanded” language. spoken as God:

“After all of the struggle and pain that My people have endured at the hands of others, after My Son has come and completed His mission, in those days, I will make Myself available to all people on the earth, because the Kingdom is now open to all. I will enter into personal relationship with all people, because the curtain is torn and all of My people are My priests. Men and women of all nations and races will be given direct access to knowledge of Me, relationship with Me, and discernment of Me so that they can tell all who would listen of the Truth and warn all who would listen of the lies of the Evil One. This is not something reserved for the high priests anymore – those who are Mine are ALL My witnesses and I am in communion with ALL of you. And I mean everyone – slaves, servants, handmaidens, social status and station no longer matter. The old way of doing things is gone.”

I fear that today what many miss in that message is the immense responsibility that it carries. When we give our kids gifts like phones or cars, we learn quickly how much they really understand the gravity of the responsibility those gifts carry. Too often in today’s world, Christians are more than happy to accept God’s gift, but then let it sit on the shelf, rotting away.

So they become open to deception – they can no longer see the lies in the world because they are no longer connecting to God. It’s like they got a new device but never really learned it, so it never reaches its full potential. There are so many churches today in a state of utter confusion and loss because they have not taken the responsibility of Acts 2 along with the promise.

If you’ve disconnected from God, or if you have simply accepted His promise and then not given it a second thought from then on, then it’s no wonder that the Gospel just sounds like “drunk talk” to you now. That can change. It has to.

Have a blessed Sunday.

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