Last Sunday we celebrated the day of Pentecost, a day commemorating a time when God poured out his Holy Spirit on his people, which Pastor Jerry Cook described as a “radical relocation of God’s presence.”
We see amazing things that God does through his Spirit. We remember what he has done in our lives. We see him work in a multitude of different ways in the lives of different individuals. God is definitely not a “cookie cutter” God. He gives people unique gifts according to His knowledge of them. Praise Him for that!
So I’ve been pondering something recently. If God is everywhere at all times, if his Spirit has been, and still is, hovering over all of creation, if he loves all people and is constantly trying to communicate with us and to establish a relationship with all of us, then is it possible that the Holy Spirit has revealed aspects of God’s wisdom to people in every corner of the globe, regardless of race, nationality, culture, and even religion? Let me explain….
We Followers of Jesus have as our inheritance a priceless set of books, letters, poems, proverbs and prophecies, inspired by God, called the Bible. The Bible is living and active, a book that is powerful because of the truth it contains. We believe the truths in the book are inspired by God’s Holy Spirit.
But God’s Spirit is evident in more places than the Bible! He is constantly moving through the universe bringing light, goodness and life wherever He goes. Can He give wisdom and insight to a poor farmer in Cambodia? Can He deposit and grow a loving heart inside a mother in India? Can He stir the heart of a secular Jew living in Moscow to fight for human rights? Can He help an Eskimo in northern Canada find food for his family? Can He give three men in Portland the courage to confront a hate-filled violent man on a commuter train? I believe He can….and does just that kind of thing all the time.
The authors of the Bible Project stated that God forbade mankind in the Ten Commandments from forming any image of God (an idol). One reason for that was that He had already created something in His own image….us!! Human men and women reflect something of who God is. And since God is love, wherever men and women show love, concern or compassion for others, they are revealing a piece of that image to the world.
So where am I going with all this? Well, when our children were little we were taught not to just point out and correct all their bad behavior, but that we should “catch them doing something good” and then reward them for it. That positive point of contact was a more powerful way of affecting their behavior than a negative one, so we were taught. What if, when we are with non-Believers of any race, culture or religion, we watch for that spark of the Spirit of God and then celebrate it with them. Maybe we could even say something like, “That looks like God” or “That looks like something God would do” or “That is just what Jesus taught us to do!” Besides being a bit shocking for them, it just might open up some doors of further conversations about how we know that, how we know God, or what God looks like and where we learned all of this.
Jesus calls us to love all people, even our enemies. How much easier it is to love people when we catch a glimpse of God in them, however small. And there may be a much larger spark than we could ever imagine. Maybe without knowing it, some non-Believers are just micrometers from the Kingdom. Would this help us be better neighbors in our community? Could this minimize or even eliminate the tension between “us vs. them”? Most of us really are on a similar journey….to discover how best to live in this world and how to make it a better place. We can learn tips from each other, but we must stay open and curious about what others have learned. Then we might earn the friendship that opens doors….and opportunities to share why we have such faith in Jesus, the eternal loving Son of God.