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Pentecost – The Language of Love


Pentecost“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?’” (Acts 2:1-9).
 
The story of Pentecost is fundamentally about understanding and communication; but to better appreciate it, we need to look back at story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). In this familiar story, the arrogant people try to build a tower to heaven in order to gain fame. God is not pleased by this and decides to “confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says” (Genesis 11:7). The people can no longer communicate, the tower project is abandoned, and the people spread apart from each other. This story is more than an attempt to explain the different languages of the world. It warns us to rely on God rather than our own abilities and arrogance, or risk losing an understanding of each other and the security of community.
 
At Pentecost, the tower event is reversed! The disciples, all from Galilee, are able to communicate what they have experienced and heard to people from all around the world. The disciples had experienced Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and then had been commissioned by the Spirit to bring Jesus’ message of love, tolerance, renewal, and mission all people. Jesus becomes that which unites people and allows for common understanding.
 
We, too, are commissioned to be disciples of Jesus and to communicate his message to others. We can recommit ourselves today to being open to the Spirit of God at work, as the disciples were at Pentecost. Through the Spirit, we can become witnesses to love through both word and action. Living our lives in the service of others communicates the incredible depth of God’s love to those for whom and with whom we serve.
 
– What part of Jesus’ message of love is most challenging for me to accept or live out?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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