We human beings are uncomfortable with those who stand out. Sure, we may like an actor or musician to be prominent on the stage or screen, but we like most people to fit in.
In Numbers 11:24-30, Eldad and Medad are prophesying, but not at the tent of the meeting where they’re expected – they’re prophesying in the camp. And in the familiar story in Acts 2:1-21, at Pentecost the spirit rests on many, who begin speaking on other languages, only to be derided as “being filled with new wine.”
Are we jealous of those moved by the spirit in ways we are not? Do we put down those who get attention? Do we dismiss that which we do not understand?
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 teaches us that we may have different gifts of the spirit, but they all come from the same God, and they are all for the good of the one body, of which each of us is a part.
So what’s that like in the twenty-first century? Are there jealousies and rivalries in our churches? In our denominations?
Of course there are. We’re human. We’re subject to these emotions.
But what we do with them matters. One way of understanding John 20:19-23 is the idea that there is an apostolic gift that allows priests, or ordained ministers in general, to forgive sins. But when I read it, I read it as a warning: If you forgive the sins of any, they experience forgiveness; if you retain the sins of any, they experience retention of sins. It matters how we, as clergy, treat people. And if we shame people, or treat them as sinful, for using the gifts God gave them, they experience shame and sin, even though what they are doing is neither shameful or sinful. Further, for those of us who claim the priesthood of all believers, every believer carries this responsibility to guard how we treat those who express their spiritual gifts.
So where are you headed for Pentecost? How is the spirit moving you?
Are you moved to the ways we can speak to people in their own languages, to meet them where they are?
Are you fired up about the many gifts of the spirit?
Do you feel a mighty wind sending you as God sent Jesus? Perhaps you feel moved to prophesy away from the tent of the meeting, out in the camp.
Let us know how you’re leaning this week.
As usual, there are some great resources at The Text this Week. If you have others, please share!
Rev. Cindi Knox is pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Evanston IL USA. She blogs at http://revcindi.com/
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