One of the first times I ever ‘preached’ was in front of my youth group while I was a junior in high school. My youth minister was helping me to prepare a message to share at our Wednesday Night Youth Group Service. He was not telling me what to say nor how to say it. He was giving me needed guidance in the shaping and forming of the message. Early on we met to go over what I had prepared. I became suddenly frustrated with my youth minister.
There was this well-known preacher, teacher, writer, and radio host. I listened to his sermons, read his books, and listened to his radio show on a regular basis. His messages were the teachings and proclamation of God’s Word on which I cut my spiritual teeth. At the time, there were very few passages of scripture which I viewed differently than this prominent American pastor.
Which basically meant that my ‘message’ was essentially a regurgitation of this famous pastor’s message. After asking me a few questions about my sermon notes my youth minister realized they were much more a reflection of the popular pastor’s preaching than my personal prayerful pondering.
My youth minister was not happy.
It wasn’t that he disagreed with the interpretations of the respected pastor. This wasn’t a case of theological quibbling. This was a case of theological quitting. I had not taken my own calling as a follower of Christ in a living relationship with Jesus seriously. I liked what God had said through this renown teacher and was fine with letting that be the last word. I saw no need to wait upon God. No need to allow God’s Spirit to breathe new life and fresh insight.
Toward the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus has left his followers waiting in Jerusalem and ascended into heaven. The Liberating Life-Giving Lord of Heaven and Earth had recently left the earth after teaching his apprentices for three straight years. Surely they had all they needed to carry on his mission and his message. Yet they waited.
It was there in Jerusalem where the fresh wind of the Spirit infused these waiting disciples with power. They were not merely regurgitating Jesus’ message, but mightily revolutionizing it! The Spirit of God was not manifesting in the places we might have most looked for it. The Spirit was not showing up in the learned leaders, professional priests, or competent clergy. Nor was the Spirit empowering the violent zealots and radical militant revolutionaries. There were those who thought their personal holiness would bring about God’s reign and there were those who thought their public holy wars would bring on God’s rule. Yet none of these leaders strategizing and planning received the power.
God’s fresh Spirit came another Way. That we might seek, wait on, and receive power from a God beyond our pious behavior and transcending our strategic action-plans. This moment in Acts reminds us to ever be waiting upon and acting in the empowerment of God’s breath of fresh Spirit. God is available to all who wait upon the Lord. And as we wait, God is as close as our next breath.