The disciples were gathered, filled with the Holy Spirit, and touched by flames of the one God. They were heard by others as though they were speaking in native tongues. Yet, even with the power of the Holy Spirit, there were some who thought they were mad, drunk, making it all up. God will never force faith upon anyone. We have freewill to respond to the nudging of the Spirit or to reject God’s love in our lives. But when we open our hearts to God, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The few who thought the disciples were drunk didn’t put Peter off preaching his message. He took it to those who were ready to hear and they were welcomed into the reign of God.
Ever experienced a person in charge taking the hump because someone else decided to act without their knowledge or approval—or even their control? That’s exactly what happened to Moses. He’d setup a meeting where the Spirit was to rest upon the elders and they would prophesy. But Eldad and Medad stayed in their camp and prophesied without him. They were clearly doing the work of God—for it was God’s Spirit who rested upon them—but they were outside the official place for doing it. I’ve known a few leaders who would kick off at that. Moses didn’t. He questioned why the telltale was jealous on his behalf—and said how he wished more people would have the Spirit. Good leaders don’t try to stop or control good work. They affirm and enable it.
Humans can have a habit of trying to detach themselves from the earth and all that’s in it, as though we are somehow separate. Yet we are intrinsically part of the whole creation—and this Psalm wants us to know this. Everything is given life because of the Spirit. The Spirit is not just ours, but the source of the whole creation: God sends forth the Spirit and everything is created. With that in mind, how should we treat all that God has created?
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
All who confess Jesus as Lord, do so because the Spirit has enabled it. So those of us who are Christians, are given the Holy Spirit as our enabler, our guide, our helper. But we are also given gifts for the good of the church. Some early Christians were convinced that spiritual gifts were there so they could edify themselves, making them feel better and more special. But Paul is clear: the gifts are for the good of the whole community, not for selfish purposes. They are not given based on merit, or achievement, or qualification. They are given to all for a purpose. Take some time to think and pray about the gifts that you bring to your community and church.
(1 Corinthians 12:12)
This is radical inclusion. Paul holds no punches in proclaiming that all are united in one Spirit. In our contemporary context, we can miss its radical inclusion. But Jews thought of themselves as separate—it was their holy call to live as a peculiar people. The culture at the time was clear about the freedom of citizens and the role of slaves. Yet, Paul declares, we are one, all equal before God, many members of one body: one in the Spirit. What unequal groups are in the world today that God declares are one and equal?
Imagine yourself in the desert land of Jesus: the hot dry climate, the clear skies and the sun beating down. The exhaustion of walking in extreme heat. Think of the rarity of water: a real lifeline, living water. Now, reread the verses. This is the life that the Spirit gives to people who are spiritually thirsty. After such dehydration, our thirst is truly quenched when we drink—and as God’s temples, water floods out of us into the world around.