Breaking Down Barriers

In my post from earlier today, I mentioned that I loved Peter’s Pentecost Sermon because he breaks down the divide that exists between those who want to hear of the new thing God is doing and those who don’t.  In the intervening 6 or 7 seven hours, I’ve decided I’d like to amend that statement a little bit by 1) adding scare quotes around “breaks down the divide” and 2) by adding “seems to” before the word exist[s].  I feel the need to do that because, as I’ve reflected on this morning’s post, I’ve become more and more convinced that this dichotomy between those who are moving forward (sometimes called, progressives) and those who are maintaining the status quo (sometimes called, conservatives) is a false one.  I alluded to it in this morning’s post when I said, “the only difference between these two groups, however, is the expectations they bring to the event.”

You see, those who want to hear and those who don’t, aren’t really all that different.  Both groups are, in the Pentecost story, Devout Jews and Proselytes.  Both groups are, today, thoughtful caring Christians.  Both groups have been, are, and will (hopefully not forever) be defined by their expectations of the future rather than their openness to the Spirit.  I would like to suggest that in our hyper-partisan culture, wherein we judge who is going to be “on the right side of history,” we’ve neglected to remember that following the risen Christ is hard work that takes a lifetime and beyond to perfect.

A couple of years ago, I wrote  post called “Whitsunday” in which I argued, “I think too often people think the are lacking the Spirit in their lives because they don’t do miracles or speak in tongues, but honestly, the Spirit is most often present in the everyday decisions of life; those moments where the choice is between self and other.”  To be honest, for me, those moments happen with regularity and I often choose the wrong decision.  Which brings me around to Peter’s sermon for Pentecost, in which he highlights the false dichotomy by making a bold claim about life in the Kingdom: everyone is invited and everyone has a gift to share.

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

Or, as Paul said it later, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Pentecost is about God breaking down barriers: real and perceived; for the up-building of his Kingdom.  My prayer today is that God would break down the perceived barriers I’ve made through labeling others so that we can get about the work of prophesy.


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