Love was unleashed that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on humanity. The Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life took up residence within every person then and subsequent generations. God loves the world. As Christians, whatever our cultural background or theological persuasion, we must think about the relationship between our religious beliefs and the world. John Stott writes, “What is a Christian’s responsibility toward non-Christian relatives, friends and neighbors, and indeed to the whole non-Christian community?”
It was the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. Shavuot, the third of the festivals of Judaism, was a joyful one, in which the first fruits of the harvest were offered to God. Christians, a large immigrant population and worshipping Jews gathered in Jerusalem. And the Holy Spirit came as promised; the One who would remind humanity what Jesus taught and did. The demonstration of many languages was impressive with everyone understanding in their own “tongue.” The outpouring of the Holy Spirit empowered the Christian community to live as Jesus lived.
The text in Genesis is fundamentally a protest. It protests the type of unity and independence that is attempted and celebrated in self-sufficiency. Leanne Van Dyk writes this about the Tower of Babel: “The story critiques the ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric of our political culture; it critiques the power dynamics of hierarchy at the expense of community; it critiques autonomy disconnected from God.” The Psalmist reminds us that God gives breath to all and will do away with all evil. In John 14:12 Jesus says, “…the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” Jesus spoke of peace, reconciliation and wholeness. Oh, the disciples were misunderstood when the Holy Spirit was poured out on humanity, but Luke reiterates in the Acts of the Apostles that even in the confusion of everyday life, followers of Jesus are to remember, tell and live the way of Jesus. We are to be faithful to God’s vision and participate in it.
Stand in the tension of life-giving and life-crushing unity; life-giving diversity and life-crushing diversity. The tension opens opportunities to learn and change. God works in and through diversity to form community. Rest in and live out of the unconditional love of God for you and others. Love is seen and experienced when we live our lives in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Stop judging, critiquing and justifying. Stop being motivated by fear.
Pentecost. Love unleashed. Together, let’s love God, one another and others. Let’s do and be church differently.
John Stott in John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 15.
Leanne Van Dyk in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 321.