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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fire Away

John 14:26-27, "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (NIV).

I love Jesus.  That should be obvious (and I hope it is), but as I thought these words to myself, tonight, they came with a little bit of a smirk.

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit.  He promises peace.  And then he sends a violent wind and enough fire for everybody (see Acts 2) accompanied by so much language confusion and excitement that the people are concerned they may have stumbled into the local bar as opposed to the local church.  Not to worry, though.  Peter's on it.  It's only 9:00 in the morning, he reassures.  Surely no one is drunk!
Peter then goes on to quote from Scripture.  I mean, it's not canonized yet, but here are the words of the prophet Joel!  Peter issues a wake-up call... which is sort of ironic, since he begins to speak about dreams.


Unfortunately, I think we have turned this image into something frightening, something harmful, something undesirable.  And yet, fire refines.

Romans 8:14-17, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (NIV).

I'm not about to suggest that fire doesn't hurt, and I'm not about to suggest that it doesn't change us.  However, I think there are times when we should stop to evaluate whether or not the pain is worth it.  I don't know about you, but I feel as if sharing in God's glory might be well worth the risk (and inevitability) of suffering, but it's difficult to say, for sure, because I understand so little about what suffering actually entails.

Tongues of fire?  Goodness, I whine when my coffee is a little too hot!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the days between the ascension and Pentecost must have been difficult ones.  As the disciples waited, I wonder what they must have imagined.  I wonder what they must have dreamed.  I highly doubt it was the scenario that actually unfolded!  I hope, though, that when it did, Philip stopped to remember those words Jesus spoke.  I hope he was like, "Oh, hey guys, wait!  I think this might be it!  Jesus said it wasn't going to be like the world would do it!"  I wonder if he then mumbled to himself, "No wonder he said not to be afraid.  Because this is terrifying!"

I also wonder how often we miss really important stuff... stuff like the coming of the Holy Spirit... because we're too afraid to let the Holy Spirit come... because we're too afraid of the fire and the suffering and the stigma of being drunk...


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