The One Word We So Desperately Need Today
Coronavirus and Anger. Racism and Murder. Rioting and Looting. Politics and Polarization. China and Hong Kong. Unemployment and Business Closures. FBI and Conspiracy. Leaders and Scandal. Tweets and Outrage. Actors and Accusations. Antifa, White Supremacists, Destruction and Death.
These were words from the headlines TODAY. News from our country, our cities, our neighborhoods and our homes. News about us.
I have been struggling to determine what, if anything, I can say to my readers in the shadow of these headlines. What word could help us better understand these times and our place, role and response in their midst?
The answer came in the form of one more word; a word that was not in the headlines, a word that was missing from the news and almost completely absent on our social media. Yet it may be THE most powerful word for our day.
The word is Pentecost.
Last Sunday, we as the global body of Christ celebrated our birth. Pentecost is the commemoration of the coming of the Holy Spirit with fire and power, and also with understanding, clarity and truth. Why is that important? Consider that without Pentecost there is no church, no revivals, no conversions to faith, no conviction that leads to repentance, no courageous kingdom work, no giving, no discernment, and no certainty of truth. There would also be no service, no selflessness, no sacrifice, no justice, no freedom and no hope.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are the people of God, equipped and empowered to do God’s work, God’s way for God’s glory. What does that look like in this present chaos? Listen to what that same Spirit led Jesus to proclaim in Luke 4:16-21:
Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
When the Spirit of the Lord rested on Jesus, He proclaimed the coming of God’s kingdom and gave us a picture of what it looks like to serve within it. Can we not see our own calling in these words, in this day?
Imagine the global body of Christ stating these same truths in how we respond, in our deeds and maybe even using a few words.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, and filled with that Spirit:
- We are empowered with one voice to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to every ear, every spirit in poverty and every soul in bondage to sin, fear and death
- We are moved to compassion to serve the poor and meet the needs of the forgotten
- We are unified and compelled to work for and cry out for justice on behalf of every person who faces unjust systems, oppressive attitudes and hate-based actions
- We are committed with one heart to be agents of health and healing in our communities
- We are proclaimers with one voice that a new day is coming, a more hopeful future is on the horizon and the coming of the year of the Lord’s favor is here.”
If we are followers of Jesus, if we are stewards trying faithfully to live out His will for us and for this world, we must be engaged in His work, participants in His calling and co-laborers in His redemptive story.
Stewarding life in this chaotic and disorienting time can only be accomplished if the Spirit of the Lord is upon us. The first Pentecost came at exactly the right moment as the post-resurrection community struggled to define a vision for its future. Our celebration of Pentecost could not have come at a more critical and urgent moment for a church struggling to discern how it will respond to the staggering events of our day.
There is a word for our world today. For the church. For followers of Jesus. For the next generation coming after us and for everyone who today feels fear, anger, hopelessness and despair.
The word is Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit. The source of power, truth, justice, peace and hope.
How will the world see in you its power and its promise? How will your life bear witness to the world that ‘The Spirit of the Lord is Upon You’?