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The Spirit of God: The Power to Hurt, The Power to Heal

This week was the celebration of Pentecost, a time in the church calendar where we remember God sending God’s Spirt to the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus. Many churches celebrate by wearing red, a symbol of the tongue of fire that rested on each of them when the Spirit came down.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

The tongue as of fire reminds us of the fire that guided the people of God as they wandered in the desert. The rush of the violent wind that filled the entire house reminds us of the wind that swept over the waters in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. And we remember that the Spirit of God is a powerful force, one that has the power of giving of life, but also one that has the power of destruction like the rain of fire on Sodom and Gomorrah and the fire of the Lord that answered Elijah’s prayer and consumed a whole altar licking up all the water surrounding the altar.

This Spirit of God refines us into new creations. We have been invited as co-creators with this powerful Spirit of God, but when we forget that we are new creations, we can use this powerful Spirit of God to harm and hurt rather than to heal and transform, especially those of us who who are called to lead and guide God’s people. We are the ones who are to ask God’s people to look up and see the flame and the cloud walking with us as we journey in the wilderness toward the promise land. We can claim that the Spirit of God rests on us, as it did with the apostles, and ask God’s people to follow us rather than the Spirit of God who is indeed with us. When we do, let us be certain that we are speaking with tongues of flames and not with our own words that seek to self-promote and self-protect. Let us remember that if we speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, we are only resounding cymbals clamoring for attention, missing out on the powerful Spirit of God that is able to do miracles.