Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2: 2–4)
Oh to have heard this moment in Jerusalem. Andrew describing God’s grace in Egyptian. Thomas explaining God’s love to the Romans. Bartholomew quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to Cretans. John relating the resurrection story to the Cappadocians.
Some in the crowd were cynical, accusing the disciples of early morning inebriation. But others were amazed and asked, “Whatever could this mean?” (v. 12).
Good question. Crowded city. Prayerful followers. Rushing wind and falling fire. Fifteen nations represented in one assembly. Disciples speaking like trained translators of the United Nations. Whatever could this mean?
At least this much: God loves the nations. He loves Iraqis. Somalians. Israelis. New Zealanders. Hondurans. He has a white-hot passion to harvest his children from every jungle, neighborhood, village, and slum. “All t
he earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14:21 ESV). During the days of Joshua, God brought his people into Canaan “
so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty” (Josh. 4:24 ESV). David commanded us to “sing to the Lord, all the earth! . . . Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Ps. 96:1–3 ESV). God spoke to us through Isaiah: “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa.49:6 ESV). His vision for the end of history includes “people for God fr om every tribe, language, people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9 NCV).
God longs to proclaim his greatness in all 6,909 languages that exist in the world today. He loves subcultures: the gypsies of Turkey, the hippies of California, the cowboys and rednecks of West Texas. He has a heart for bikers and hikers, tree huggers and academics. Single moms. Grayflanneled executives. He loves all people groups and equips us to be his voice. He commissions common Galileans, Nebraskans, Brazilians, and Koreans to speak the languages of the peoples of the world. He teaches us the vocabulary of distant lands, the dialect of the discouraged neighbor, the vernacular of the lonely heart, and the idiom of the young student. God outfits his followers to cross cultures and touch hearts.
Pentecost makes this promise: if you are in Christ, God’s Spirit will speak through you. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover your language.
With whom do you feel most fluent Teenagers? Drug addicts? The elderly? You may be tongue-tied around children but eloquent with executives. This is how God designed you. “God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (Rom. 12:6 NLT).
For whom do you feel most compassion? God doesn’t burden us equally. “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men . . . He fashions their hearts individually” (Ps. 33:13, 15).
[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)
Gracious Father, I am deeply grateful that you took the initiative to reach out to me—even in my sin and selfishness—in order to bring me into your eternal kingdom, through the work of Christ. I cannot fathom such love! And yet, Father, I admit that too often I try to hoard your grace, putting up walls of protection that I might keep hurt out and blessing in. I confess I am like the clam that shuts itself up in its shell, afraid of threats from the outside. Lord, I recognize that you call me to unshell myself and to partner with you in your mission of love. Unshell me, Lord, so I, too, may reach out to a lonely, discouraged, and even hopeless world. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
From Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference Copyright (Thoma s Nelson, 2010) Max Lucado