The World is on Fire…Where is the Holy Spirit in all this?

·     Cities writhing with rage
·     Wars, catastrophes, and rumors of wars
·     Financial instability
·     Mob rule running rampant
·     Christianity under siege

The ancient world was on fire, and who could have predicted the surprising resilience and massive growth of Christianity in the midst of it? And yet, that’s precisely what took place as the Holy Spirit ignited a movement that defied all odds in 30 AD. Faith not only survived in that type of hostile environment, it thrived. What happened then can happen again, but will you pray for it?

According to Acts chapter 1, the first groundswell of Gospel expansion got off to an inglorious start by human standards. The number of committed adherents to Jesus’ teachings was capped at 11, initially, until Matthias was added, bringing the grand total to a mere 12. Worse still, all 12 hid out in an undisclosed upper room with zero intent to venture out. That’s when everything began to change.

Historically, the Gospel tends to favor the unlikeliest of settings for explosive growth, similar to those bullet points recounted above (I.e., cities writhing with rage, wars, catastrophes, rumors of wars, financial instability, etc.). Jesus had prophesied exponential growth was at hand. And He did not overstate the seismic upsurge of Christianity in the days to come: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) It was like a massive earthquake was immanent with Jerusalem at the epicenter; primary and secondary shockwaves spreading throughout Judea and Samaria; tremors felt at Earth’s remotest parts.

Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus’ promise came to fruition as The Holy Spirit descended from Heaven in a never-before-seen way:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Can you guess what event occurred shortly after that that propelled the Gospel beyond the confines of Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria? In other words, what did God use to carry out His purpose of reaching the ends of the earth? Remember, the Lord can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. The answer is found in Acts 8:1-2 after the stoning of Stephen, who, of note, was Christianity’s first martyr:

Now Saul approved of putting Stephen to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.

God used persecution to further His message! Or, as Tertullian put it, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” From this point forward, beginning in Acts 8, the Good News set about “Turning the whole world upside-down” for King Jesus!

All of this brings to mind a really sweet memory from childhood. Our house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had a vacant lot next door. Since it was springtime and windy, with an eye on a handful of dandelions near the street, it made perfect sense (at least in my mind, but to my mother’s chagrin) to snatch up the dandelions, blowing out the seeds, allowing the crosswinds to scatter them. Of course, my mother came out fussing, “little Georgie, stop that or get a whipping!” something having to do with “weeds,” she said, a point making no bearing on me. I dutifully obeyed, at least momentarily, just long enough to hear the wooden screen door slam shut behind her. After that, I immediately resumed blowing and scattering dandelion seeds for the better part of an hour. A few weeks later, her comment about “weeds” became evident: Never in my life have I seen a more magnificent display of dandelions.

To return to where this blog began, “The World is on Fire…Where is the Holy Spirit in all this?” especially as it relates to the world today? The answer remains the same as it was in 30 AD: The Holy Spirit is alive and well, continuing to carry out Christ’s message on earth. Like the scores of new converts popping up like dandelions 2000 years ago, today’s climate is ideally suited for a resurgence of genuine faith.

So, the question becomes, “Am I willing to play my part in it?” If yes, and I certainly hope you answer “yes,” I’ll leave you with a simple tool: it’s a message of 3 R’s Peter spoke in Acts 3:19: “Therefore Repent and Return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of Refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Much like blowing dandelions anticipating future blooms, join me in scattering those 3 R’s to ignite another movement that defies all odds in our day!

Jesus said, for those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


 Join our mailing list for author updates, bible studies, ministry, and more.