In these days when much is being said in the press - Christian and secular - about how weak the Church has become (yes, despite the significant numbers who connect via Zoom), about how strapped for cash it has become, about how irrelevant it is...
How encouraging and refreshing to read the Book of Acts! Ther
e you see a community of God’s people who, empowered by the Spirit, take their communities by storm: preaching, healing, casting out devils, sharing lives, caring for the poor - in short (as it is said) turning the world upside down.
And in no small measure it is through their experience of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not given for us to have shivers in the liver, but to make us effective witnesses. Remember, Jesus said that the disciples’ basic need was “power from above”. The disciples needed the ability given them by God himself to speak well of him.
Secondly the Holy Spirit is in abundant supply. Whatever you make theologically of the phrase ‘the baptism in the Holy Spirit’ at the very least you need to see that the word ‘baptism’ was used of ships being immersed and plunged totally into the sea, of being sunk. Likewise materials that were dyed completely were talked of being ‘baptised’. The very notion of being “filled” suggests completeness. And then the Holy Spirit is “poured out”. None of these pictures suggest God is mean or niggardly. He generously gives of himself.
Third, following on from that last sentence...the Holy Spirit is from above; he comes down; he comes upon - he is indeed God’s gift. And so all the gifts of the Spirit that God wants us to enjoy using, are signs of his gracious involvement in our lives and witness.
It is staggeringl
y true: the power and ability of God is freely and abundantly available to us.
So, rather than giving into despair, rather than agreeing with the nay-sayers, the doom mongers about the Church today...let’s cry out to God for a fresh visitation of the Holy Spirit and let’s see the Book of Acts not just as an historical document of the early church, but as our blueprint and manifesto for the years to come.
Danger! God at work!