THE CHURCH ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Devotional for Day of Pentecost 2018
There was a news item sometime back about a man from Mankato, Minnesota, who was fined $100 for trying to set fire to an evangelist while he was preaching. My guess is that there are a lot of Christians today who need to be set on fire in a figurative and positive way. The church on the Day of Pentecost was a church that was set on fire. It was ablaze with enthusiasm, excitement, and power. What was there about this particular church that made these people so responsive to this kind of outbreak of Christian fervor?
First, the church on the Day of Pentecost was A CHURCH OF INTENSE FELLOWSHIP. They really loved each other. They had strong bonds of care and concern for each other.
There is a church in Chicago that officially is named St. Stephen’s. But it is also known as “The Church at the End of the Road.” And don’t you think that “at the end of the road” is a fitting location for a church? For there are many people who are at the end of their ropes and at the end of life’s road. Their hope and strength are gone. “At the end of the road” is also where the church needs to be.
The church at its best is a caring church. A church where love is experienced. And that certainly was true of the church on the day of Pentecost. They ate together, sang together, worshipped together, and even had their possessions together. They gained strength from their intense fellowship.
Second, the church on the Day of Pentecost was A CHURCH OF STRONG UNITY. People of different backgrounds, social classes, languages, skin colors, and national origins all heard the same Gospel in their own native tongue. But rather than fragmenting into tiny, self-serving interest groups, the church on the Day of Pentecost was drawn into a cohesive whole.
When Billy Graham held his historic crusade in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1960’s, he insisted on an integrated choir. A local newspaper wrote in an editorial that Billy Graham’s coming to Alabama had set the church there back a hundred years. Billy Graham’s answer was classic. “If that is the case,” he said, “then I have failed in my ministry. For I had intended to set the church back two thousand years – back to the Day of Pentecost.”
When the waters of God rise, the dividers disappear. People are not separated by race, color, or language. Rather we are all precious souls for whom Jesus died. Where the Spirit of God is, there is unity.
And then third, the church on the Day of Pentecost was A CHURCH THAT REACHED OUT TO OTHERS. Where the Spirit of God is, people are concerned about sharing the Good News of Jesus with their family, friends, and neighbors. The church on the Day of Pentecost was a rapidly growing church because they were reaching out.
At the end of World War II, Robert Woodruff, president of Coca Cola, declared, “In my generation it is my desire that everyone in the world will have a taste of Coca Cola.” Today Coca Cola is sold throughout the world, because one man by the name of Robert Woodruff motivated his colleagues to reach their generation all around the world for Coca Cola.
Is it our desire in our generation, that everyone around the world would know Jesus Christ?
Richard Lederer, author and speaker, has become nationally known for collecting what he calls examples of “Anguished English.” He gathers such things as unintentionally funny headlines and signs.
People Magazine once did a story on Lederer. Their photographer asked him to think about setting up a humorous, posed picture that would summarize his work and would lead into his article. He did not have to fabricate anything.
On the outskirts of his town stood a telephone pole with a street sign that read, “ELECTRIC AVENUE.” Right below that street sign was a yellow diamond traffic sign that announced, “NO OUTLET.”
And that is the greatest danger for the church. That we will have God’s electricity, but no outlet. That we will experience God’s power, but then refuse to share that power with others. We will not let that power empower us to do something. That we will experience God’s love and unity among ourselves, but then shut others out. That we will experience the joy of the Holy Spirit, but then not want to and not try to share that joy with others.
The answer is really quite simple. The source of power is the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit is, there is intense fellowship and a strong unity. And where the Spirit is, there is a great concern for reaching out to others.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE