Submitted by Jan on Tue, 30/05/2017 – 10:05
Day of Pentecost
Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: Acts (of the Apostles)
Verse: 1 – 21
Selected texts: Acts 2:1-21 and 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
In reading Acts 2:1-21 I was struck by the repetition of the word ‘all’ to describe the gathering of the community of the followers of Jesus “they were all together in one place” (v.1). The only criteria for being part of this community which was the first church was faith in Jesus. The social categories of gender, class, health status, race or any other criteria that divides people are not mention. Here is what the first church looked like, a diverse group united by their love and faith in Jesus. When the Spirit came down, there was no selection criteria as all were filled with the Spirit: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (v.4). The Spirit comes to all in a non-discriminatory way as none are excluded! The gift of the Spirit enables all to speak in tongues: “ began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” These ‘tongues’ were other known languages of the people who had come from all over the known world to Jerusalem:”each one heard their own language being spoken” (v.6)! The first message of the gospel was spoken by all in the power of the Spirit so that all persons would hear the message in their own languages – none was discriminated against, no language was inferior or superior to another. So the first Christians were diverse and the Spirit filled all without exclusion.
Similarly in 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, the inclusive and non-discriminatory character of the Spirit is revealed in enabling persons to believe in the Lordship of Jesus and giving each one gift/s to serve the church and the world: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (v.7). No categories of divisions exclude anyone from receiving the gift of the Spirit and the gifts that the Spirit gives: “whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (v. 13). The image of the body is used to describe the diversity and unity of Christians who constitute the body of Christ. Among Christians there should not be exclusion of any person because the Spirit who dwells in Christians is non-discriminatory – all are welcome in the church and all have a role to play according to their gifts not according to their gender, health status, sexul orientation or class. The church that has the Spirit of God therefore needs to be a community of diversity, inclusion and unity based on only one criteria faith in Jesus. A Spirit filled church speaks the language of every member, is non-discriminatory, inclusive and creates room for all to exercise their gifts for the building of the church and transformation of the world.
To think about: Since the Spirit gives all gifts to serve and is non-discriminatory – are you using your gift to serve and does the non-discriminatory attitude dwell in you and your church?
Written By: Dr Nontando Hadebe: Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians
Author: Hadebe N (Ms)