From Pauses for Pentecost
The apostles saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
Yesterday we explored the Pentecostal miracle of communication into which God’s Spirit invites us. It is the invitation to speak of God’s endless mercy and great goodness in the tongues of people around us so that they may understand the good news. Let us look today at how we can get more involved in this divine miracle. I want to suggest that this miracle of communication helps us see others in a clearer and deeper way. In a deep sense this is what happens for those early disciples. The Holy Spirit makes possible a fresh awareness of other people and, as a result, they can communicate more effectively.
The Holy Spirit continues to do this today. As John V. Taylor has said, “The Holy Spirit is the invisible third party who stands between me and the other, making us mutually aware.” When we become more aware of the persons next to us, their joys and their sorrows, we are far more sensitive to how best to speak about God’s good news. There can be no genuine mission and ministry without this eye-opening change, made possible by the Spirit. Strikingly, in the first miracle recorded after Pentecost, “a new way of seeing” plays a big role. When Peter heals a man crippled from birth, we read: “Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’” (Acts 3:4).
Perhaps the one word that describes this Spirit-given awareness is empathy. There is a great need for empathy today. Our children need more than only to be brought up; they long to be seen by their parents. Our elderly need more than a cup of tea; they need to be recognized in their uniqueness. Our believing friends need more than for us to share the good news with them; they long to be accepted and valued for who they are. As we grow in empathy toward others, we find that we are better able to communicate with them. Indeed, we begin to speak in the tongues of those around us, no matter how different they may be.
Ask God’s Spirit to help you truly see those around you today.