by Dr. Bill Ury
It is interesting to compare reflections on the last two Pentecost Sundays. The first was amidst the unrelenting chaos into which we all had been plunged, the second as things began to return to normal.
Pentecost May 31, 2020:
Amid the plagues of virulent disease, floundering economies, political blaming and now the old horrors of endemic racism and retributive vengeance, I am exposed for who I am. It is hard to face myself.
It must have been as humiliating for Peter, standing there in proud, intellectual prowess before the One he thought he comprehended. Receiving a passing grade on bloodless theology, he fails profoundly when “Cross talk” emerges. He is so unlike the Son of God that he must endure the searing rebuke, “You are just like my enemy, the devil.” He then hears the reason for that fundamental opposition, “You are not minded like God” (Mark 8:33).
I must go there again as well.
Judging others from my suburban couch, casting aspersions on those who slash and burn. Or I can ask Jesus to tell me who He is and who I am. Have I thought His thoughts? What is His perspective? How must I orient my life in such a way that picking up my cross is the first response of my heart? Apparently, one who walked with Jesus every hour could actually be minded like Satan. The disciples were trained racists. And I am not one whit better.
This may have been the most unnerving Pentecost Sunday I have ever experienced. A worship service of four after a night of fire, raging, swearing, lurching mobs everywhere. Jesus’ answer? You need My mind. Without My breath, My wind, My fire—the Holy Spirit— transforming your mind you will never think or act like Me offering love, justice, peace, forgiveness and hope.
Pentecost May 23, 2021:
It is only when we face who we really are that full deliverance can come. The Salvation Army has doggedly remained committed to entire sanctification. And I know why. Unless Jesus can make His mind real in my actual life then the only thing my religion does is to make God in my image which is merely self-protective idolatry.
But He wants to come and imprint my heart and life with His Cross-formed mind so I can walk into a charred, broken world with His selfless love and reconciliation. No one is clearer than Catherine Booth where she instructs, “Christianity is as much a spirit as a practice, and herein it differs from all other religions and ethical systems, inasmuch as the practice of it is impossible without the infusion of the living Spirit of the Author.”
Those first believers, who waited, prayed and received the Holy Spirit, were transformed and went into hostile contexts armed only with the infusion of selfless, holy love. They experienced the full presence of the Holy Spirit moving freely in their minds and hearts to offer inseparably righteousness and compassion, justice and mercy.
As Salvationists, we are known for our practical offerings of the love of Christ. But our pragmatic efficiency must never diminish the biblical reality of the bestowal of agape love by the Holy Spirit of God (Romans 5:5). Near the end of her life Catherine Booth wrote many letters from her sickbed. She found herself often reminding her beloved of the essence of Army’s existence. Knowing the tendency we have to retreat due to outside pressures she wrote: “Be sure and seek at all cost to maintain Holiness of heart and life, and give yourselves up without reservation to the war with evil and to the rescue of your perishing fellow-men.”
Pentecost is not merely a day, it is a constant, intimate, personal relationship with the triune God. His Mind is only made available to us by the Holy-making Spirit.
Prayer: Spirit, breathe the mind of Jesus, my Savior, in me today. Amen.