Day of Pentecost
June 8, 2014
Gift of challenge, gift of power
Often, loving parents will give their children gifts that will help them learn and grow: a two-wheeled bike, a chemistry set, a microscope, a guitar. When a child receives a gift like this, he or she is encouraged to learn new ways to use a growing mind and body. The child may approach this gift with either uncertainty or eager-ness. It is always a challenge to face an unfamiliar experience.
Jesus gave his disciples a challenge when he breathed the Holy Spirit into their lives. Because the risen Jesus knew he would not be a physical presence with his disciples forever, he gave them a gift that would enable them to carry God’s presence to everyone they encountered. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
It may have been frightening to Jesus’ disciples at first. Until Jesus, people recognized the Holy Spirit mostly through the actions of kings, priests, and prophets. Often, God’s Spirit led these people to do or say things that made them unpopular—even put their lives at risk. Now, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would have the ability to continue Jesus’ work among God’s people.
With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are faced with the same challenge. The Holy Spirit can lead us to live in a way that confronts the values of a secular world. When God’s Spirit lives in us, we are compelled to live as Jesus did. We can no longer claim the name of Christ, unless we are willing to follow in our Savior’s footsteps. But when we accept the challenge, we are blessed by the words of Jesus Christ, who tells us, as he told his disciples, “Peace be with you.”
Willie Israel, pastor, Rolling Hills Moravian Church, Longwood, Florida