Recently, in a time
of corporate prayer, I sensed the Holy Spirit ask me a question, “Am I awed by
God or impressed by man?” While this question was asked within the quiet
confines of my heart, I knew it was for all who were present that day. A few minutes later I asked the question out
loud for all to hear.
I think the
question surfaced, in part, because for the last few years the second chapter
of Acts has been unpacked for me in new ways.
I am seeing things in the text that I had missed on many past readings.
What I began to
notice in Acts 2 was the repeated experience of people being amazed by God or
awed by His presence. Whenever the Word repeats something I take special
The entire city of
Jerusalem was affected by the supernatural uproar caused on the Day of
Pentecost. Acts 2:6 reads, “When they
heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear
their own languages being spoken by the believers.”
Verse 7 goes on to
say about those who came running, “They
were completely amazed.” This was not a partial amazement, but a total and
complete amazement at what God was doing. Today, we might say, “They were
After declaring how
awesome it was to hear the wonderful things God had done in their native
tongue, the text continues in verse 12, “They
stood there amazed and perplexed. ‘What can this mean?’, they asked each other.”
They were stopped in their tracks by the experience – they just stood there –
Peter went on to
preach his famous Day of Pentecost message.
After the message these amazed listeners asked, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter told them to repent of their
sins, turn to God and get baptized, and then they would receive the amazing
Spirit of God. After Peter finished speaking, 3,000 amazed and awestruck people
were added to the Church.
This amazing work
of God did not stop on the Day of Pentecost.
God’s work birthed a community of faith who were ruined for anything
that wasn’t amazing or awe inspiring. A normal and predictable Christianity
would not hold the attention of this group.
Later on in Acts 2
the believers formed a community and devoted themselves to the
apostles’ teaching, fellowship, common meals and prayer. Verse 43 says, “A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed
many miraculous signs and wonders.” Pentecost was not a terminal event locked
in history. The events of Pentecost began
unfolding forward into the developing history of the Church and has gone on
for the last 2,000 years.
I used to think the
signs and wonders produced the awe within this first community of faith (vs.43),
but the text says the miracles followed the awe that had come over them. The
awe of God first fell in their midst much like the Spirit fell just days before
on the Day of Pentecost. Once the awe
arrived the miracles soon followed. This awe of God falls into our midst
because if comes from Heaven, not from what we do on earth. Our works can be
impressive at best. God’s works are
awe-inspiring and leaves people standing in amazement
In some ways I
think our greatest need in the Church today is to have the awe of God fall upon
us. It has been too easy to get
impressed with all the Church does with our latest leadership strategies, stage
lighting, good music and all the other stuff of ministry. These elements are
not evil and might be needed in certain assignments, but at their best, they
can only impress.
Peter told the
crowd assembled on the Day of Pentecost that God had publicly endorsed the
ministry of Jesus by doing powerful miracles, wonders and signs through
Him. Today, God wants to endorse the
ministry of His Church in the same way.
I watched a NASCAR
driver win a race and he held up an energy drink from one of the paying sponsors
who had endorsed him for the race. I am
wondering if we might rediscover a sense of awe in the Church if we held up
things before the world that would endorse the supernatural ministry of Jesus
in our midst. I think this would create the kind of awe and amazement that would
have our communities come running to see what was happening. That would be