By Rev. Sam Gutierrez
When I was in high school, a friend and I would occasionally drive his 1985 Suburban to an automatic car wash. After the initial soak, suds, and spotless rinse, huge fans with blowers would descend upon the vehicle, sending streaks of water speeding across the windshield. With his finger on the switch, my friend would quickly roll down the windows right when those powerful blowers hit. Hurricane-like winds entered the Suburban, causing papers to fly, wrappers to whirl, and shirts to wildly flap. Nothing could withstand the fury of those gale force winds—our cheeks rippled and our hair twisted and tangled. After it was over, my friend and I would look at each other and say, “that was AWESOME.”
When I read Acts 2, my thoughts wander back to that old ’85 blue Suburban in the car wash. Early in the morning, almost two months after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, 120 people who loved Jesus were gathered in a house in the middle of Jerusalem. The 12 disciples (minus Judas) were among the 120, as well as Jesus’ birth family—his mother Mary and his brothers. These Jesus-followers were sitting in a room when the sound of a heavenly gale force wind filled the whole house. Then, tongues of fire or “little flames” separated and rested on each of them. Next, they began declaring the wonders of God in languages that they did not know or learn.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God sent the Spirit and gave them the power to…share. The beginning of Acts shows that the early church was given the power to share in two specific ways: with words and with actions.
First, they received the power to share with their words. Peter stood up, addressed the crowd and shared about “this Jesus.” Later in Acts 4:33, we see this power to verbally share again – “with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” When the Spirit came, they received the power to witness about Jesus with words.
Second, they received the power to share their lives with each other. Acts 2:44-47 says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
When given power, the followers of Jesus responded by opening up their lives, hands, tables, doors, houses and wallets to each other. They became a community of persons sharing life together in radical and generous ways (without fear of scarcity). In doing so, the early church became a living audio/visual aid demonstrating and participating in the giving and receiving communal rhythms of the Triune God. When the Spirit came, they received the power to witness about Jesus with actions.
How did people respond to the work of Spirit in the disciples? We know that people were bewildered, amazed, and then perplexed. And we also know that many of those people were eager to join this group of Jesus followers. It seems to me that people today often respond in a similar way when they witness the power of the Spirit moving in and through the life of a community that shares deeply and radically. May the Spirit that was given on Pentecost dwell in us and move in us as it did in the early church community. May others witness our community and want to learn more about this Jesus we follow. May we also receive power from the Spirit--the power to share.