Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pentecost: Speaking in Tongues

Sunday just gone was Pentecost Sunday.


Acts chapter 2 records the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. Those gathered were filled with the Spirit and spoke in other tongues. It’s a strange and bizarre event that marks the birth of the church. It’s an empowering event that equipped Christians to be the church, to gather and scatter in the name of Jesus, active in the mission of Jesus to bring healing and reconciliation to the world.

Pentecost however is not a onetime event that God simply used to get the ball rolling. Pentecost is a reality to be experienced today.

We should expect divine interruption as the Holy Spirit speaks into our lives through those impressions which over time we discern to be God’s voice. We should expect to speak in other tongues, that somehow when we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us and enable us to speak in tongues we’ll learn to speak a kind of “gibberish” language that just roles of the tongue and speaks to the Spirit of God. I can’t explain this any better; it’s a subjective, bizarre and weird phenomenon. Yet, over the last 100 years the Pentecostal church has grow to over 400 million people who have experienced this as a reality in their life.

We should expect to speak in other tongues in the sense of speaking a different language to the world around us. We tell a different story to the world in regards to how to make sense of life. Inspired speech always follows the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We speak in tongues and bring the presence of Pentecost into people’s lives when we speak words of hope, life, grace, possibility and promise in the midst of uncertainty, doubt, worry, anxiety and hopelessness. We speak in tongues when we talk about the resurrected Messiah, Jesus Christ who was not abandoned to the realm of death but whom God raised to life in order that we all might be raised to life. It is a different story, a different language; it’s the good news of the gospel of Jesus.  We speak the language of Pentecost!

With this in mind there is always going to be something a little strange, a little crazy, and a little bizarre about Christ followers. Let’s make sure the strangeness is our belief that God talks to us, talks through us, interrupts our lives, leads, guides and challenges us.  There is no need to wrap Pentecost up in weird pentecostalism wrapping paper and go all Harry Potter or Old King James. Like with prayer in Matthew 6:5-8 there should be simplicity and a humility that comes with the empowerment of the Spirit.

Too often pentecostalism causes us to throw out Pentecost. Pentecost then becomes contemporary rather than unusual. Lights, projectors and sound systems, replace noise, wind, and fire. All because we thought the noise, the wind and the fire needed to be out of control. We forgot that a Dove is in control.

1 comment:

Richard Rowe said...

Excellent stuff. I attend a "pentecostal" church, where are frequently told that as "pentecostals" we should be experiencing more of the gifts of the Spirit, especially speaking in "tongues".
Even though I speak in "tongues", I find that what I hear is phonetic gibberish, and we are usually told not to let that bother us and to submit to the Lord. Really?!
I personally believe that ALL of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available to ALL of the church, and not just that group of people who attend a "church" or "movement" that was birthed out of Azusa Street.
I could well be a boring conservative stuck in a "Pentecostal" church.