When Stephen was martyred, he ended his speech saying, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your ancestors did, so do you!”
In light of the juxtaposition of Pentecost with Covid-19 and the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the subsequent protests and riots, I believe God is calling us to consider: how are we resisting the Holy Spirit today?
If we’re not walking in step with the Spirit, who seals us for the day of redemption, who are we walking in step with? Our flesh. We’re grieving the Spirit of grace.
If we are not earnestly seeking the will of God, whose will are we seeking? Our own.
What is the point of our confession, “Jesus is Lord!” if we do not do what our Lord says?
The Lord says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.” As the pandemic turns up the pressure in all of our lives while removing so many distractions, what are the ways our love for God has grown casual, cold or superficial? How can we love God more fervently and wholeheartedly?
The Lord says, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This global pandemic shows us that we cannot restrict our neighbor to only people we like or people like us. Everyone is affected. Our neighbor today includes the people next door just as much as it includes the people of Minneapolis or Wuhan or anywhere in the world.
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on people from many nations, revealing God’s glorious purpose to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ through the Church. We are the Body of Christ, God’s new humanity that will one day rule a holy New Creation. That is why judgment begins with the household of God.
Therefore, as Christ’s Bride, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. As exhausted, hopeless, numb, angry or grieved as you may feel, do not harden your hearts. Receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save not only your soul, but our families, our neighborhoods, our nations and our world.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone–people from every tribe, nation and language–who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Today is the day of salvation. Today is a day of repentance. This Pentecost, let us return to the Lord, listen to the Spirit, believe the Word and do what God says.
These reflections were delivered on May 31st, 2020 at Union Church Seattle.
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