After Pentecost we now had over three thousand Believers. Many of the pilgrims who had traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost decided to stay. Can you blame them? For the first time in their lives they were living – really living! The Holy Spirit was opening their eyes to a whole new world of joy, clarity and positive energy. And they did not want to lose this new life with the Holy Spirit.
I remember thinking to myself, “Okay, what now, Lord? What in the world are we going to do with all these new Believers?” The Twelve, as we were now being called, met together to talk about our new challenge.
I started the discussion (does that surprise you?) by saying, “Brothers, the Lord has blessed us with this new family of Believers. And he has given us this new power through the Holy Spirit. But I have to tell you, I don’t have a clue what to do next.”
Matthew, who was always a most thoughtful man, said, “Well, I don’t know what to do, either, Peter. But I think I know what not to do.”
Thomas jumped in, “Whatever we do let’s not continue the rule-keeping religious formality that had blinded us so badly before we met Jesus. Let’s just emulate Jesus and his way of doing things: personally, relational, relaxed. My religion was just a checklist religion. I felt good if I could check off that I had been to synagogue, and maybe helped out around the synagogue, or around the community.”
“Or bad when I broke a religious rule, which seemed to be often,” Matthias groaned, shaking his head.
John said, smiling, “Yes, I see what you mean. Peter, let’s just emulate Jesus and how he was with us. Let’s just start meeting together, and sharing meals together. Let’s invite anyone and everyone to join us, regardless of their background.”
“Regardless of their background,” James asked?
I was now starting to see with the clarity the Holy Spirit always brings, and His energy was gaining momentum in all of us. “Yes,” I said. “Let’s start telling everyone we’re gathering together tomorrow morning at Solomon’s Porch. Then we’ll figure out who has homes and meeting places and all those details.”
And that’s what we did. You see, we didn’t know exactly what to do, we just knew what not to do: not to be formal; not to be rigid; not to lord it over our new brothers and sisters. No hierarchies, no memberships. No programs. No one in charge, except the Holy Spirit. Who, by the way, is the only one with the authority to be in charge.
Our plan, if you want to call it that, was to gather together as a family and learn to experience Jesus together, and this new Holy Spirit presence and power within each of us. The Holy Scriptures, as well as Jesus’ words, would serve to guide us, as the Psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
That night I laid on my bedroll thinking about what this new gathering of Believers was going to look like. How many people would join us? Would anyone even show up? Would we be successful? I caught myself, realizing I was venturing back toward the kingdom of Peter, worrying about numbers and success. So I just relaxed and said, “Holy Spirit, you’re going to have to help us.
“We don’t know what to do, or say. You’re the teacher. You have the wisdom. We … I … am so unworthy, and so flawed. Give us the words to say. Show us what to do and we’ll do it.”
With that I felt an immediate sense of comfort. I could sense Jesus’ presence. Suddenly a peace came over me. I knew we would be alright tomorrow morning. I didn’t know the what, I just knew the why: We wanted everyone to know Jesus. We wanted them to know what a great friend he is. We wanted them to know the peace and power, as well as the freedom that comes from knowing him, personally, and intimately.
And that is all I needed to know. The Holy Spirit knew the rest. I closed my eyes, picturing Jesus’ smile, and his warm, joyful and accepting heart, just like he was with Matthew and his sick, sinner friends. And I knew this is what we wanted to do, too.