May 23, 2010
Day of Pentecost (C)
Since my son-in-law first ate there, I’ve been hearing about Fogo De Chao. Fogo is an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steak house. Patrons turn their coasters to the green side and waiters almost instantly surround the table with succulent cuts of sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye, chicken, pork loin and/or lamb chops. You can eat all you can endure. So, the anticipation nearly was unbearable; the expectations ran high; and we were not disappointed. In fact if anything, it was indescribably better than I ever could have imagined.
Pentecost had that feel of anticipation. About 120 disciples lived for seven weeks wondering what was next. Three days after the worst day of their lives, their hopes were rekindled. Jesus was alive. He came and ate with them. He continued to talk with them. Then, He left again. As He was leaving, He promised one would come in His place. Then for 10 days, they waited, anticipating what might come and what the results might be.
On the day of Pentecost, they had a remarkable experience that would change their lives forever. The Holy Spirit showed up empowering them to preach Jesus, and 3,000 experienced Him for themselves. The Spirit has been providing remarkable experiences ever since.
Because the Spirit of God comes to dwell in us, we can expect some very specific results.
I. We receive a new identity; we become sons of God (
The island in the Smith kitchen was a…a…a…actually, no one is quite sure what it was. Mrs. Smith found it in a used furniture store, removed the wheels and painted it. Mr. Smith added some decorative trim and a new counter top. Voilá—a relic was re-purposed, given a new identity and became a useful kitchen island.
That’s us—repurposed. Before the Spirit of God enters the picture, we are dead, lifeless, useless, fallen human beings. The Holy Spirit enters our lives and begins to lead us; then we are alive and filled with purpose. We’ve received a new identity; no longer “sons of Adam,” we are now “sons of God.”
God is no longer foreign, distant or removed. We stand in awe, not cowering in fear. Because God’s Spirit resides in us, we can have peace with God.
II. We experience a new relationship. God is now Father (
An elderly man told Dr. Fred Craddock (seminary preaching professor and author) the following story:
“See that mountain over there” (pointing out the restaurant window)? Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up. Every place he went, he was asked the same question, ‘Hey, Boy, who’s your daddy?’ Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’
“He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going into stores because that question hurt him so badly. ‘When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He always would go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’
“One day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, ‘Son, who’s your daddy?’
“The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone finally would know the answer to the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ Before he could answer, the preacher said, ‘Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that, he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’
“With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He never was the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a child of God.’
“As the distinguished gentleman got up from the table he said, ‘You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!’ and he walked away.
Craddock called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was—the one who just left who was sitting at our table?” The waitress grinned and said, “Of course I do. Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper; he’s the governor of Tennessee!”
When God shows up in our lives through His Spirit, we can now truthfully say, “I’m a child of God.” We can, with confidence, turn to the Father and say, “Abba.” We may or may not know our earthly origins, but we know our spiritual biography, our spiritual genealogy. It sounds something like, “And God begat…”
III. We receive a new promise; we become heirs of God (
Once in a while you read of someone dying without heirs and leaving a large estate. It’s enough to make you want to volunteer for adoption. Maybe you’ve considered volunteering to become some rich friend’s sibling. We’d love to be on the receiving end of a large trust.
It pays to be related to someone with wealthy ancestors if you are interested in receiving wealth. However, we have something far better. We are siblings of Jesus Christ; as such, we receive His inheritance. What did He get? He received the opportunity to return to the presence of God. He received a renewed relationship with the Father that would last forever.
When the Spirit of Christ lives in us, we are family. Just as the Father, Son and Spirit share an eternal relationship and a continuous experience of presence, so shall we. We don’t become deity, but we do live forever in the presence of God. Not only do we experience Him in this life on a daily basis, but we look forward to the promise of ascending into His eternal presence where there will be nothing separating us from Him.
The consequences of the Holy Spirit’s presence are beyond imagination. We are adopted into God’s family as His children. We are given new identities and privileged to call Him “Abba.” As if that were not enough, we have the promise of receiving all that Jesus received when He returned to the Father.