Opening day

Daily Reading for May 13

To understand Luke’s Pentecost it is necessary to understand that the gospel doesn’t just go to the ends of the earth; the ends of the earth are present from the very first day. There is no secondhand, third-hand or fourth-hand faith. There is no church or nation that can say, “It belonged to us and now we are going to give it to you through our benevolence, evangelism, and mission work.” No, No, No! Our listeners rise up and say, “We were there that same opening day you were there.” For any church that would be Pentecostal, Pentecost removes all ground for any sense of triumphalism, for that ugly sense of arrogance and superiority that takes over the church sometimes simply because we get the notion that the salvation of other people in the world depends upon our behavior. Luke says it started in all the world at the same time. . . .

Luke’s word for us is simply this: “Do you want to be Pentecostal in a good, healthy, lively, renewing sense? Do you want the church to be Pentecostal? Then spend some thoughtful, careful, prayerful, listening time—listening to the listeners, in their concrete, historical circumstances.” And if we listen to the listeners, carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully, then we will notice, and will stand among them and say, “I think I speak for every person here, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Europeans, Asians, Americans, Chinese, Africans, South Americans . . . I think I speak for every person here when I ask, “Show us God and we’ll be satisfied.”

From “On Being Pentecostal” by Fred B. Craddock, quoted in Best Sermons 1 edited by James W. Cox (Harper & Row, 1988).

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