Pondering Pentecost, Living Pentecost
By John M. Johnson, Coordinator for Native American Ministries and Disaster Relief
We are seated in a Starbucks coffee shop on Xuan Thuy Street in Hanoi, Vietnam. Across the table from me is a member of our congregation. Jackson (not his real name) is a veteran cross-cultural worker, linguist, master storyteller, and friend. He is a church planter among a tribal, animistic people group that live in the mountains of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and even into China.
“When you tell the Creation to Christ stories, how do you how do you move from story to application?” I ask. Jackson responds, “I use a variation of four questions.”
- Where do you find yourself in this story?
- What questions does this story raise in your mind?
- What does this story teach you about the Creator God?
- If you really believed this story were true, how would it change the way that you live?
Since that time those questions have captured my attention and imagination. Scarcely do I preach a sermon, lead a small group Bible study, or read Scripture devotionally without returning to one or more of those questions.
Shortly, we will be entering Holy Week: the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. Of course, within that week are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and what I refer to as Silent Saturday. Those missionary questions above certainly apply. And over the past few months, perhaps more than ever before in my life, I have been reading and writing about Pentecost. This is all in preparation for the Pentecost Life initiative being rolled out this year by Global Strategy (chogglobal.org/PentecostLife/).
Pentecost is that festival day mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Lev 23:15-21) that comes seven weeks after Passover. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, which, as you know, took place at Passover, the Holy Spirit comes upon the Jesus-believing community of faith. They are hiding and praying and waiting and wondering. When the Spirit comes upon them, they are cleansed for service, equipped for ministry, emboldened for witness, and propelled into action (see Acts 2).
All of those missionary questions above are important, all apply. But it is the last one that causes me the greatest pause. You see, I have been pondering Pentecost. I invite you to ponder with me for a moment. What would change in my life (and in yours) if I really believed that the Holy Spirit had cleansed, equipped, emboldened, and sent me into this world to do “greater works than Jesus”? What difference would it make if I really believed that the Holy Spirit was at work, right now, where I live, work, and worship, to reveal Jesus to all persons? What if I really believed that God wanted to change the world through my words of testimony and our demonstrations of godly, Holy Spirit-inspired power? What if I was convinced beyond the shadow of any doubt that God intended to draw all people to himself and he was planning to partner with me to accomplish this? I wonder. Ponder with me in the expectation of living Pentecost every day of your life.