What’s awe-inspiring to you?

The early Christians went quickly through a roller-coaster of experiences and emotions that must have given them a sense of whiplash. First, Jesus dies. Then, he starts showing up — to hundreds of people at a time — at a time when no one had a worldview that even supported bodily resurrection in this way. As they grappled with what that meant (such as: Who then is he if he can rise from the dead?) it wasn’t long before he disappeared again, this time into the clouds. They must have been wondering what this meant, but were probably hopeful when they heard that his last words were like a challenge: you will be my witnesses. In other words “it’s your turn!”

Finally, in what was truly an awesome and awe-inspiring scene, the Holy Spirit came upon them. That’s how Jesus and those followers described it. It was wind, fire, and language, good news and baptisms. It was the ultimate “you-had-to-be-there” scene.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, teaching, studying, and praying about Jesus, to the point where even the more awe-inspiring stuff can start to lose its luster. But when I think about it with fresh eyes, I can’t think of any better way to imagine the presence of a divine being. I’ve read all kinds of critiques people have about parts of the Bible, but no one could offer me a more awe-inspiring scenario for God showing up in the course of our world.

It boils down to a simple sequence really:

I came bringing forgiveness (not a political kingdom).

I entrust the spreading of that forgiveness message to ordinary people.

I pour out my power and inspiration on them to be able to carry out the work.

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