Words are just words. But the moment you realize that you’ve missed the magnitude of a mind-blowing statement from the lips of Jesus, words cease to just be print on a page.
My eyes quickly read over the first page of Acts, seeing the words, but at first, not comprehending the monumental moment that 11 Jewish men shared with a risen Messiah just before his grand exit into the clouds. With the words of Jesus their destiny is laid out, but it’s not what they imagined. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Restoring the Kingdom to Israel didn’t look the way they thought it would. It was not just dethroning the Romans. It was bigger. It now spans 2,000 years to include us, and yet those witnesses’ stories are as compelling today as ever.
Though the Holy Spirit continues to do the same work, He constantly does it in fresh ways. I began wondering how that looked in modern times so our Seedbed staff tracked down a number of present day observers and asked them all this question: “How do you see the Holy Spirit moving in our world today?” In this series of posts, we’ll share the answers of some influential followers. May it teach and inspire us.
N.T. Wright – former Anglican Bishop of Durham, presently a research professor at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and author of more than 30 books.
“I see the Holy Spirit moving in a million ways; I am particularly excited by the way in which old barriers are being broken down and Christians from different traditions are learning from one another. Evangelicals are discovering the joys and strengths of liturgical worship and of meeting the Lord in the poor and homeless whom we are called to serve. Catholics are discovering the joys and strengths of Bible study and informal prayer. Social-action Christians are discovering that they need to refresh their biblical and spiritual roots. We are discovering one another, and discovering the living Christ in one another. This can only be the Holy Spirit at work, and for this we give thanks.”
“I see the Holy Spirit moving in a renewed emphasis on missions – in particular, men and women and boys and girls in local churches who take to heart that when you love Jesus you must love others both around the world and in your own community. I see “Kingdom Entrepreneurs” who are being raised up by God’s Spirit and given Kingdom “dreams and visions” just as promised on the day of Pentecost. Laypersons are not waiting for pastors to create a vision or tell them “thus saith the Lord” – they’re hearing the Spirit’s voice and jumping into action, caring for the last and the least and the lost. It is a joy to see. Gone are the days when we think we’ll change the world through Christian politics (oxymoron?) and slick packaging. The Spirit is telling us that we will change the world the way Jesus did – by loving, serving and pouring out our lives for others. And people are getting it.”
Jon Acuff – National bestselling author and blogger most commonly known for his book Stuff Christians Like.
“For me, social media has been such a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit. I am constantly amazed that when you honestly share something on a blog you wrote in Nashville, a reader in Germany can pass that on to a friend in Vietnam who is going through a difficult situation and needs the hope of Christ. I’m really encouraged that technology is making the mustard seed idea of faith so vibrant, that sense that you can do something small in your corner of the planet and God can echo it throughout the world.”
Laceye Warner – Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies at Duke Divinity School.
“One of the most striking ways in which I see the Holy Spirit moving today is through numerous young people answering calls to serve in Christian ministry. With a variety of gifts, and perspectives not bound by tired categories and polemics, they bring a passionate commitment that promises to renew the Church’s witness in the world.”
Bauta Motty – Professor at the Jos Evangelical Church of West Africa Theological Seminary and a key leader of the six million-strong Evangelical Church of West Africa.
“I am a teacher at ECWA Theological Seminary in Jos, Nigeria, where I see people who have abandoned their lucrative jobs (engineers, lawyers, accountants, bankers, military, etc.) and come to the Seminary to be trained for Christian ministry.” [Consider Motty’s perspective in light of the fact that Jos is a place where many Christians have been severely persecuted.]
We will share several more testimonies over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime we want to hear your stories. How have you witnessed the Holy Spirit moving in our world today?