When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
Recovering Our Missionary Fire
When it comes to living on mission, it’s easy to explain away our mediocrity. We are expert excuse-makers, aren’t we? After all, there are meetings to attend, kids to take care of, and items galore on our to-do lists. There’s just not a lot of time in our crowded schedules for telling people about Jesus.
But when we start thinking this way, we find ourselves moving away from God’s vision for the New Testament church. Besides, a lack of room in our schedules isn’t the real problem anyway. No, the real issue is that our Christianity often lacks missionary fire—the kind of fire that comes through experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit firsthand.
Therefore, let’s start expecting the Holy Spirit to move with a Pentecost-like intensity in our time (see Acts 2:1-4 above). We have everything we need to experience His missionary fire when we gather. Only we must bank everything on the Gospel, longing for something of God-sized consequence to take place as we worship Him together.
Combine true Gospel belief with the resolute expectation of dynamic Spiritual movement, and we position ourselves to receive God’s power. This is how we go further with the Holy Spirit than we ever thought possible. And as a result, He will bring indomitable joy to every area of life, so that our schedule ceases to be an excuse for our lack of mission. Our to-dos, instead, are being redefined as opportunities for Gospel witness.
A Kind of Explosion of Joy
After all, when the Holy Spirit comes to church, His power redefines everything by creating an invigorated culture of missional worship and worshipful mission. That kind of church is a sending agency, mobilizing courageous missionaries to proclaim the Gospel to a joy-malnourished world. This is God’s design for a thoroughly “Gospeled” congregation. It happened on the Day of Pentecost and it can happen again in our time.
British theologian Lesslie Newbigin helps us to see this more poignantly when he says,
“Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.” (The Gospel in A Pluralist Society, p. 116)
Missionary fire banishes all staleness and boredom from church. In fact, Newbigin is so bold as to liken our experience to a radioactive fallout! Why? Because the Gospel is power (Rom. 1:16; 1 Co. 1:18). Wherever it is believed and cherished, it detonates, bringing magnetic happiness to everyone in its blast radius. The apostle Peter, who preached at Pentecost, put it this way: “[your faith will result] in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pt. 1:6-8).
So this Sunday, let’s come expecting “a kind of explosion of joy,” shall we? Let’s quit talking about how busy we are and start talking about the Gospel. It’s time to open up our lives to the work of the Spirit, desiring to see His missionary fire ablaze in our time. That’s how a ragtag bunch of ordinary, unspectacular people came to change the world two thousand years ago. Experiencing the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, they refused to settle for mediocrity. They wouldn’t shut up about Jesus of Nazereth. Their joy was too great. Ours can be too. I wonder if you believe that.
Liturgy for Sunday, October 04, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 34:1-3
Confession & Assurance: Isaiah 59:20-21
Benediction: Jude 24-25