When Growth Is Elusive, Remember…

The book of Acts chapter two tells this incredible story where Gods promised Spirit turns up, enables the disciples to speak in various human languages and then Peter gets up says a few words about Jesus and suddenly three thousand people are added to the new christian community!

This is not an every day occurrence and it wasn’t for them, as much as it isn’t for us. Those of us who preach regularly, will probably have noticed, that as much as our messages might be inspired by the Holy Spirit, we don’t get the same reaction as on that day in the book of Acts! However if this is happening where you are, am sure we would love to be encouraged by your comments below.

For the church to grow that rapidly, and that quickly, the Lord’s hand must’ve been in it, but just much as that is important. I believe that the ground, spiritually speaking was fertile, ready for the ignition of the gospel message, to radically change the spiritual and religious dynamic. 

The disciples had been told to go to Jerusalem and wait for the councillor, Jerusalem had been shocked by Jesus death, and heard the rumours of his resurrection, the disciples once obscure followers had become known and the people were ready for a change, a next step. The ground was ready, the seeds planted over years and planted through the disciples speaking in different languages, simultaneously it seams burst into flame and new faith flourished.

I was going to continue the post here and talk about how the spiritual ground in the UK and indeed Europe is hard and unrelenting, 

Instead I stop my personal pity party, and I’m reminded it wasn’t that easy for the disciples either. I am not going to get arrested, they did, I’m not going to get flogged, tortured or killed, these were all experiences those early believers had. Yes Pentecost happened, yes God kicked off the new covenant relationship with his church with a great crescendo. Moreover there have been revivals since, and there probably will be again. 

But I’m reminded that the long slog of the disciples going from place to place, of experiencing different levels of welcome and antagonism, is not unlike those of our own. I find myself, strangely comforted, and encouraged that I’m not alone after all, but one of many who have gone before.

Once upon a time in our green and pleasant land, the ground we walk used to be fertile, and today it is not particularly fertile towards any organised religion, there are many books and words written by great christian thinkers and academics as to why this might be. 

We long for things to get easier, to see some yield for the seeds planted, It is exhausting physically, emotionally and spiritually in keeping doing the work Jesus calls us too. But perhaps this is the road that Christ calls his church to walk for now, one of not great victories, but individual efforts in building Gods kingdom, and over time those individual efforts will become something great. Great in terms of the glory of God.

As a church we do not often speak in the language of spiritual things rather social, religious and political change, indeed our books don’t even make it into the spiritual section in book shops and libraries. Perhaps we have lost our confidence in spiritual things, in answered prayer, seeing people healed. I know some times, or indeed most times my toil for the Lord is not in his strength but my own. As believers we are quick to claim the gift of forgiveness as our own, and of eternal hope, so to should we receive the gift of the holy spirit that Jesus all so offers us.

Then perhaps our words and actions might be more ordained, perhaps we will read the spiritual seasons with a greater aptitude and see where the lord is already at work. Waiting possibly for us to catch up.

So may the words of Acts two not be just some obscure passage we speak occasionally about on the day of Pentecost. Nor be a passage we use to beat others over the head with, for example I was once told by a fellow believer that if I didn’t speak in tongues I wasn’t a proper christian!

Instead may its words remind us of just as much as we received the gift of forgiveness through Christ death and resurrection, we should also embrace the gift he gives us in the way of the Holy Spirit, a gift of sustaining power, the way to walk more deeply with God and an encourager to step out boldly in faith and build Gods Kingdom.

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  1. jyB Inspired says:

    Seems like sometimes you write directly to me (which is why I follow your posts). Thank you for the encouragement. Let me return a little, Be not weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not. Every work for the kingdom of God is a great work.


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