Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This event must have been impressive, and now two millennia later we look back and say we want some of that too. In fact, some churches make a show of praying for the Holy Spirit to come on them to the extent that they fall over in a faint or babble uncontrollably. Even in Seventh-day Adventist Churches I have seen services where people have been praying repeatedly for the Holy Spirit or Jesus to come and fill everyone’s hearts. And those in charge of the service are unsatisfied until some folk in the congregation come down to the front and shed tears and say how much they want the Holy Spirit to fill their lives.
Without raining too much on their parade – is this what being filled with the Holy Spirit is about? Is it too much to suggest that much of what passes as a “Holy Spirit” experience nowadays is little more than an emotional high.
The real story of Acts is not about the cloven tongues of fire, the rushing wind, the speaking in tongues, but that the disciples were motivated to spread the Gospel. They went on to preach the Good News and even, as we shall see later, perform humble tasks because of being “filled with the Spirit.”
If our vision of the Holy Spirit stops at the physical light and sound show, then we have lost the point of what the Holy Spirit is here for. When you pray for an “in-filling of the Holy Spirit,” are you praying for an emotional roller-coaster ride, or are you committing yourself to some good solid work?
I admit that I am not a highly emotional person. Church services that make a strong play for emotional involvement leave me cold – especially when they occur every week. My preference is for logic and reason, rather than emotional “Jesus talk.”
Having said that though, I recognize others need a spiritual experience which expresses itself in emotion. This post is not about removing emotion from our spiritual lives, but about accepting that the work of the Holy Spirit is much more than just an emotional response.
It is worth noting that when we get to Acts 6, the disciples had a typical “growing church” problem to solve. The Greeks and Hebrews were at odds with one another because apparently, the Greek widows were being treated unfairly. They prayed about it and came up with a plan:
Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Fixing this problem required a practical approach, appointing people (deacons) responsible for seeing that the widows were treated fairly in the community life of the early church. The work of the Holy Spirit is as much about acting the Gospel behind the scenes as it is about preaching the Good News in the public eye.
If you are praying and waiting for the event known as the “latter rain,” it is worth remembering that the Holy Spirit can use you now in lots of small ways. We do not have to wait for the big event.
Luke 19: 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
If we are responsive to the Holy Spirit in the little things, who knows where the Holy Spirit will lead us?