God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
Last post on the book of Acts we looked at how the disciples chose Judas’s replacement. We also discussed how even though the decision about replacing Judas’s position as the twelfth disciple is important, concerning ourselves with another disciple is far more important. (If you’re interested, see What About the 12th Disciple? (and that other disciple too).)
In todays post we’ll begin Acts chapter 2 where the disciples receive the Holy Spirit.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.Acts 2:1-4
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”Acts 2:5-13
So the disciples, obedient to Jesus’ instructions, were together praying with one accord, waiting for the Holy Spirit when the house was filled with the sound of a mighty wind. And something that looked like flames of fire rested upon each one of them. And they began to speak in foreign languages.
There was great diversity in the crowd that day, because devout men had gathered there in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and there were visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, and other parts of the world as well.
The men in this diverse group said to each other: “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in love, the disciples were sharing the mighty works of God with their brothers. Their brothers who were in error by the way, because, apparently, many or most of these approved of the crucifixion of Jesus. (Acts 2:36)
And they were bewildered.
Some were more bewildered than others because some said, the disciples were drunk. (Acts 2:6, 13)
About nine months ago Kathy and I drove across Oregon to a small town in Idaho to pick up a puppy we named Muggles. The trip there was uneventful but on the way home we encountered gusts of wind. I don’t know how mighty the wind was rushing that day but there were tumbleweeds the size of Volkswagens blowing across the highway. I had to dodge them. Driving felt like playing the video game Frogger. I’d never seen anything like it before. I was bewildered. It was very disruptive to say the least.
The Holy Spirit can be that way. The Holy Spirit can be disruptive and confusing like a mighty rushing wind. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said this:
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”John 3:8
And so it was with the men in the crowd on the day of Pentecost. Their world was disrupted. They were bewildered.
But that didn’t stop the disciples from sharing the mighty works of God.
When I Was Young
When I was younger I loved to share my opinions with people about what is right and what is wrong. People who agreed with me would affirm what I was saying. But I don’t recall ever changing anyone’s mind who disagreed with me. My opinions were very much on display, but my opinions overwhelmed my love for people and my love for God. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit or God’s love were very present within me during those years.
Later, as I began to study Jesus intentionally and more thoroughly, the way I communicated began to change. Honestly, some of the people who agreed with me in my younger years now became bewildered. They didn’t understand where I was coming from. But I’ve found my communication has become more effective. And here’s what it comes down to:
My experience has been, when my love is overwhelmed by my opinions, people reject them and they’re repulsed from Jesus as well. But when my opinions are overwhelmed by my love for people and my love for God, they tend to be better received.
Doing everything in love is what I see in Jesus, in scripture, and in the people I know who are successful at influencing others for Christ.
So the crowd was there for the feast of Pentecost which commemorated the day Moses brought the law to the Jews. But the thing is, when Moses brought the law engraved on the stone tablets to the Jews, 3,000 people died. (see Exodus 32)
But in our text, when the disciples shared about Jesus in love, as we’ll see just a little later in this chapter, 3,000 were saved. (Acts 2:37-41)
Dropping the hammer on people by loudly telling them how wrong they are and how right we are kills our influence and doesn’t communicate the love of Christ.
But communicating the mightiest work of God, which is Jesus’ love, and making that love our priority, and allowing God’s Spirit to fill us with that love until it overwhelms our opinions — that’s what I believe God wants for me as a Jesus follower.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Image of mighty rushing wind on the water via Wikimedia Commons
Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.
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May I recommend the informative and entertaining sermon by Robert Morris, “Is God Pentecostal?” It is both clear, and informative.
Yes! “My experience has been, when my love is overwhelmed by my opinions, people reject them and they’re repulsed from Jesus as well. But when my opinions are overwhelmed by my love for people and my love for God, they tend to be better received.”
Amen to that!