Tomorrow, much of the church across the world is celebrating Pentecost Sunday - the day the Holy Spirit breathed life and power into the Body of Christ assembled in the upper room. He came to empower them to live their ordinary lives in such a way as to give vibrant witness to reality of the resurrection of Jesus. He came to break down the barriers between ages, genders, and social and economic classes, and to push and prod the fledgling church to embrace ethnicities and cultures very different than their own.
His coming is recorded by Luke as being accompanied by signs that would signal to any person schooled in the Old Testament that God had broken in - tongues of fire and the sound a rushing mighty wind. The reversal of the curse of Babel - where the nations were divided by their inability to understand one another’s language - is signaled by the empowerment to speak in tongues so that everyone can hear the glories of God being proclaimed. Speaking in tongues became the sign for the early church of the Spirit’s immediate presence, as He baptized not only those in Jerusalem, but also in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
So powerful was the experience of speaking in tongues that some branches of the early church began to regard it as a mark of superior spirituality. To correct that error of spiritual pride, the apostle Paul suggests that speaking in tongues is usually a matter of prayer or praise and, if it is done in a public service needs to be interpreted so that everyone can benefit. At the same time, he wants to encourage those who have that gift to use it fully and freely - because it is beneficial personally and corporately. Of course, it must always yield to love.
At the same time, while it may be initial, speaking in tongues is inadequate evidence of the Spirit’s presence. Believers must be constantly seeking to be being filled with Holy Spirit as an ongoing process. He will partner with them to transform their natures. This change will be signaled by the growth of the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.
So let's celebrate Pentecost Sunday tomorrow, by living Spirit-filled, Spirit-controlled, Spirit-empowered lives every day!