A Pentecost Moment
When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own languages!” They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”
Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel... - Acts 2:1-16
Pentecost! This passage celebrates the inauguration of the Church’s mission in the world. Not only that, but it captures the one of the most essential aspects of community: communication. In this passage, the author tells us that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” The Spirit of Life empowered the disciples to speak of God’s power and deeds – to tell of God in new and exciting ways - to crowds from all over the known world. It is interesting to juxtapose this story with the story of Babel in Genesis 11. In that story, God confuses the language of humanity (who all spoke a common tongue) because it led to their prideful construction of the tower. In the Pentecost story, God empowers everyone to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in their own tongue. God is one who desires unity, not uniformity!
Since we worship that God who desires unity through our diversity rather than through a pretense of uniformity, it is incumbent upon us to work on our ability to communicate with each other. The first act of the apostles is to proclaim God’s truth to the world in ways that everyone could understand. That doesn’t mean that those who heard the truth were “hooked” so to speak, but they at least began to understand the words in their own ways. God desires for us to know the Spirit of Life and for us to know one another as fellow human beings.
Where are the areas in your life where you struggle with communication? Is it with family, friends, or complete strangers? Do you still seek a “Pentecost moment” in a relationship so you finally understand one another? The power of the Holy Spirit commands us to find ways to communicate with others clearly and truthfully so that we can truly experience each other as persons. Communication often leads to frustration and anxiety, but the alternative is to constantly be misunderstood and misunderstand others. I once had a romantic relationship where, despite great chemistry, the other person and I could not communicate properly. Everything was lost to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Spirit-living is about the struggle to communicate with others. Speak boldly, gently, wisely, tactfully, and honestly so that you may reach the truth.
In many ways, our encounters with other people can be like that old Abbott and Costello skit “Who’s on First?” Miscommunication can lead to humorous moments like this classic skit, but it can also lead to heartbreak and violence. God’s Spirit is calling out the voice of patience and clarity in you. During your daily prayers, ask God to give you the ability to speak tongues - to communicate honestly and openly with every person you encounter. Open your heart and mind to this ability and do not be discouraged. Simply be diligent and determined in understanding others and being understood by others so that God’s truth will come out in the end.
Discussion Questions: Have you ever had a “Pentecost moment” with someone where you finally had a breakthrough in communicating with someone? With whom was the encounter? What worked and what did not work?
See more devotions from Kyle and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.