Shaken Beyond the Walls
Posted on November 2, 2020 by VMMissions Staff
In the early chapters of the book of Acts, we’re told of two occasions when the Holy Spirit comes on Jesus’ followers. On the feast of Pentecost, the disciples are gathered in one place, still waiting for the coming of the Spirit whom Jesus had promised. A sound like a tornado fills the room, and tongues of fire appear above the believers.
They spill into the street, or at least proclaim “the wonders of God” so loudly in the many languages of the Roman Empire that passers-by gather in curiosity. In response to the jeers of some, Peter clarifies what’s happening, inviting the listeners to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39).
Many respond to the message, and this group now representing many cultures and languages enters into a new depth of fellowship, dedication to the apostles’ teaching, sharing of possessions and public worship—a witness that “added to their numbers daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Persecution follows soon after, and the believers gather again, this time in a passionate prayer for God’s intervention. Strangely their request isn’t that opposition cease, but for courage to “speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29) and for visible signs validating the identity of Jesus. And following their prayer, the place where they were gathered was shaken, and again the results are healing, courageous witness and sacrificial giving.
Shaken beyond our walls. In the past months our lives have been shaken by a global pandemic: the ways we gather in worship, our demonstration of care for each other in times of crisis and loss, the rituals of friendship and family life. At the same time, both the church and broader society are experiencing a reckoning like never before in relation to racial injustice. We’re faced with opportunities for repentance, generosity and bold witness as ambassadors of God’s reconciliation through Christ.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds the church that “[Christ] himself is our peace” (2:14), the one who breaks down dividing walls, uniting us as “members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone… And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (2:19b-22).
May we be shaken by that indwelling presence beyond our walls and to new places of repentance, healing and bold witness.
Jason Rhodes Showalter is Global Ministries Director for VMMissions.