May 31, 2009
?One of my fondest school memories was a seventh grade field trip to Linville Caverns in the mountains of North Carolina. I was mystified by all the beautiful rock formations sculpted by dripping and running water over thousands of years. Our class went deep into the caves where daylight never reached. As the surroundings grew darker, I was getting a bit jittery with the spooky sound of dripping water and the damp feel in the air around us. I sure was glad our guide had a powerful lantern! At one point, he stopped by a stream and pointed out that the trout living in the cavern waterways had been blind all their lives because they had always lived in darkness. I thought about how sad it would be to live in the midst of such breath-taking beauty and be unable to see it.
That experience caused me to think of how even more tragic it is for the people of God to live in the midst of God’s activity today and be unable to see it because our spiritual vision has grown so accustomed to the darkness in the culture around us.
It was a similar situation in Jerusalem as the disciples gathered with other Jewish pilgrims from all over the world to observe the celebration of Pentecost. It had been seven weeks since Passover and the time when Jesus had been crucified on the cross. Even as the religious world was preparing to celebrate the dual purpose of Pentecost (the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai and the beginning of the annual grain harvest), the disciples were waiting for something to be realized that Jesus had promised and wondering if it ever would. They had a dream that was still alive, but it was flickering in all the winds of worldly pressures.
Acts 2 is so rich with meaning, and there are many applications for today; but two things happening in this passage are especially significant-the Holy Spirit is coming in a way not seen before, and the Church of Jesus Christ is being launched. These two dynamic elements have been
the dreams of saints for centuries, as the prophet Joel and the apostle Peter attest here.
I. Where Do Dreams Originate?
Dreams can come from a variety of sources. Nightmares can come from late-night eating. Daydreams can come from being bored. Once I even remember experiencing a sudden hallucination from the well-placed forearm of a middle guard while playing high school football one Friday night.
These were the types of dreams the crowd believed to be going on in Jerusalem that day at Pentecost. They mistakenly thought the activity of God around them was just a little too much drinking by those weird disciples (
There is little doubt that sometimes our dreams for the church-while easily attributed to God-can really be our own personal desires for the church. But the real source of dreams about the true activity of God is always the Holy Spirit. The Spirit definitely has a dream for the church today, and He inspires people to see God’s activity around them. A Spirit-inspired dream for the church is simply what God wants the church to be and do.
II. How Does a Divine Dream for the Church Come True?
Certainly not by kissing frogs, wishing upon a star, or holding the largest part of the wishbone. Acts 2 gives us a model of how to make a Spirit-inspired dream for the church become a real church:
• Unity of fellowship
• Faithful proclamation of the gospel
• Genuine spirit of humility and repentance
• Bold, risky commitment
• Primary dependence upon the Holy Spirit, not financial strength or personal abilities
The late author and Pastor A.W. Tozer once said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” Those words challenge me to dream something higher for the church today and pray that the Spirit of God would make it a dream come true.