Where Is The Holy Spirit In All This?George Shamblin
* Entire communities seething with rage
* Massive campaigns of distortion and misinformation to sway public opinion
* Christianity shut down at every turn
* Rampant turmoil throughout the landscape
* Opposition parties plotting to overthrow the world’s superpower
* The 10 Commandments torn down from the public sector
* Mob rule becoming the order of the day
Set against this disruptive backdrop, who could have guessed the Christian faith would not only survive but thrive like never before? Well, that’s precisely what happened in 30 AD through the widespread stirrings of God’s Spirit.
In Acts chapter 1, the initial groundswell of the Gospel’s expansion was slow going. The number of adherents was capped at 11. By chapter’s end, an additional member was added, Matthias, bringing the grand total to 12 mere followers. Even worse, this ragtag crew of “evangelists” hid in an Upper Room with zero intent of venturing out. That’s when everything began to change in the most dramatic of fashions. Historically, the Gospel tends to favor the unlikeliest of settings for growth, similar to those recounted above (I.e., campaigns of misinformation, entire cities seething with rage, persecution of loyalists to Jesus of Nazareth, etc.).
Jesus had prophesied explosive growth was at hand: “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) The seismic upsurge of Christianity in the days to come could not be overstated. It was like an earthquake—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, as recorded in Acts 2, Jesus’ promise of Another Helper—The Comforter —came to pass as The Holy Spirit magnificently descended from Heaven:
As the dust settled, devout men from every nation under Heaven “continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?'” At which time, Peter “took his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: ‘Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words . . .” (Acts 2:14) The Greek way of saying “took his stand” is technically “one who holds his ground and does not hesitate or waver whatsoever.” This is exactly what Peter and John did as hostile governing authorities commanded them to “stop speaking and teaching at all in the name of Jesus.” How strong was their defiant reply: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) And they were just getting started.
As the Good News of Jesus took root, or “turned the whole world upside-down,” it reminds me of a sweet memory from childhood. Our house had a vacant lot next door. Since it was springtime and windy, and since the handfuls of dandelions near the street had already caught my eye, it only made sense (at least in my mind, not my mother’s) to snatch the dandelions and start blowing all the seeds out. Watching the crosswinds scatter them about was such a spectacular display; how could any kid resist? Of course, my mother came out fussing about “weeds” or something of the sort, but after she returned inside, I resumed scattering seeds for the better part of an hour. A few weeks later, her comment about “weeds” became evident: I have never witnessed more dandelions in my entire life than I did that day.
For those who have ears to hear, let them hear