Acts offers a front-row seat to see the Way of Jesus become the spiritual movement that forms Christianity. This wildly chaotic movement is wonderfully life-giving. The hearts of enlivened disciples burn within them like Emmaus Road walkers. God adds new disciples to Christ’s Church everywhere they turn. The Big Bang of Pentecost bursts into an undeniable miracle of color, beauty, and newfound communication.
Well, mostly undeniable. The people described in Acts are still human. Their control tendencies reactivate in response to all of this out-of-the-box Holy Spirit activity. The Jerusalem church grows nervous over the rumors about an outbreak of spiritual chaos in Antioch. Imagine their discussion: “We can’t have people running all over, being converted here, there, and everywhere. This will get out of control right quick without some theological safeguards in place.” We’ve all been there before, feeling a bit anxious when the Spirit gets loose. Believers in Jerusalem send emissaries to Antioch—where Jesus’ followers are first called Christians—to bring order to what’s happening.
This story in Acts about the formation of a faith community parallels the story of our spiritual journeys as individual disciples and as congregations. We experience the Big Bang of salvation, which brings us new life and makes our old wineskins burst. Then we enter a time when we must make sense of our new spiritual landscape. Then life shakes us up again and opens the door to God’s creative Spirit, bursting with new expressions of faith within us and within churches. When we open ourselves to these renewing seasons that God gives us, we will live, like the earliest believers do, with great joy.
Since our faith is part of the dynamic movement that starts unfolding in Acts, where do you see its continued growth and emergence today?
God, help us lay aside our controlling tendencies so we may become eager participants in the work of your creative Holy Spirit. Amen.