“On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.” Acts 2:1-6
In Acts 2 we find the disciples in one room, having a meeting, waiting for the helper God had promised them. And the Holy Spirit shows up, firstly in what seemed like a mighty windstorm, which symbolises how His presence infuses life and generates new creations. And then there is what looked like tongues of fire which symbolises how the Holy Spirit displays the pure, refining holiness of God.
And that must have been insane to be there as they had this intense intimate experience of the presence of God and got filled with the Holy Spirit. So often in church culture we crave those great encounters. We want to feel God close with us. We want those deep worship experiences when we can feel the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. And those are good. There is nothing wrong with that at all, we should seek those times of intimacy with God. But they shouldn’t be the end. The story of Pentecost doesn’t end with the disciples in that room filled with the Holy Spirit and praising God. They come out of the room, and then things get even crazier.
In Exodus 34 we read about how Moses had a similar close encounter with God on the top of Mount Sinai. And when he comes down from the mountain to share God’s covenant with the people of Israel his face is glowing because he has spoken with God. But in order for people to see that glow he needed to come down from the mountain. I’m sure he would have been content to stay up there with God for the rest of his life. But he needed to come down from the mountaintop so that his encounter with God could start to change other people.
Fast-forward back to Pentecost. After the disciples have been filled with the Holy Spirit they don’t just keep it to themselves. There is all sorts of noise and commotion as they are filled with amazement. And a crowd gathers from all sorts of different and hard to pronounce countries. And through the power of the Holy Spirit they are able to hear the disciples speak to them in their own languages about what God has done. The disciples don’t keep it to themselves; they immediately go out to tell others. Which is a challenge for us; because how often do we share what God has been doing in our life with our non-Christian friends?