When did you receive the Holy Spirit? How has that gift from God been manifest in your life? Are you aware of your spiritual gifts? Do you doubt the vibrancy of your faith? Have you ever grieved the Holy Spirit? When we are honest, our understanding of the Holy Spirit is one of the most problematic aspects of Christian faith. We are taught that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all Christians. We know that the Holy Spirit is sensed, rather than intellectually apprehended. Yet, we slip down opposite sides of the Holy Spirit issue by assuming too much at times and disclaiming too much at other times. We are frequently confused, sometimes arrogant, and often humbled in our awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Perhaps this is because our view is too narrow and much too personal.
Acts’ singular message boldly announces the Spirit is in charge of the growth, witness, and development of the church. The leaders led in response to the Spirit’s direction. Congregations grew by the Spirit’s confirmation. Ethical and social choices were determined after prayer and the Spirit’s consensus. On page after page, visions and dreams, sermons and lessons, prayers and patient waiting demonstrated the close guidance of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Why is the Spirit so evident in Acts and so distant from our lives in the church? Perhaps because we, unlike the earliest Christians, are more interested in our personal spiritual experience than in God’s great spiritual deeds through the church. Humbly, Acts helps us confess: The Holy Spirit enlivens the whole church, not just our particular corner.