In my mind’s eye i see a huge cloud – rising and billowing up from the earth – beautiful colours, yellow, orange, green, blue, indigo … swirling and churning and then in the middle I see a faint image – the image of a figure on a cross. “Yes Ian – what you see has made it possible for you to hear Me and see My face – I told Moses no-one can see My face and live – but through the work of Jesus on the cross the curtain in the temple has been torn and you can now look on Me ‘in Jesus’ and hear My voice through Him”
As I look the cloud starts to billow and spread. “Do you see how the cloud is spreading and covering everything – that represents My Spirit who I have sent out to cover the whole world, so that every people-group, every person in the world can know Me. I am everywhere, from the darkest places of suffering, pain, hardship and poverty to the mountain-top experience of My immediate presence . Every person is different, every person in the whole world is an individual with a path I have designed for them – no two are exactly alike – but they all lead together to the huge stream of people moving to My heaven and My presence. I have created this diversity – I have created all the quirks and differences – I have done it for My sake that I can enjoy all mankind, made by Me in My image – which is so incredibly diverse – beautiful like a kaleidoscope which cannot be described, only enjoyed.”
Lord what is happening in Israel? “The conflict is a continuation of my judgement on them for rejecting their Messiah, which was pictured in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem – BUT the purpose of my judgement is not meant for total destruction but ultimately to get many to turn to Me and see Me as their true Messiah and join the mighty throng of the kingdom of God – in the meantime when you pray for them – remember there are many Christians, my beloved children, among the Arabs as well – pray for them with equal fervour”.
Reading is Acts 2:37-47. Once again a very well known section, what will Jesus say?
One word stands out: “Saved” vs 21 Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Vs 40 b: Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Vs 47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who where being saved. With the great focus on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the institution of the Church, it is perhaps possible to miss what God was doing in Jesus. The individual members of the new church (the new Israel) had to be saved and the pouring out of the Spirit was part of that. But what was happening to each one? The Greek word for “saved” is “sozo” which means far more than the English translation “saved”. It means being made complete, it is often translated in the NT as “healed”. It means being made into a complete, whole, healed person, healed from past corruption and brought into the Kingdom of God to demonstrate the full glory of His creation..
What is also interesting is that the action of each person is vital – “call on the Name of the Lord” and “save yourselves…” yet the summary at the end shows clearly that ultimately it is God’s work, His action that does the saving – hence “the Lord added to their number”.
Secondly the description of the new community is a picture of what the saved community looked like. I love this picture and have preached on it a number of times, but today what struck me was that it is not PREscriptive but DEscriptive. It is the beautiful outworking of the magnificent joy of those who were being saved and filled with the Spirit. That means that this can be experienced and demonstrated in many ways in different cultures and communities. I have found subconsciously myself perhaps looking a little down on the way other cultures express their new communities when they are different to my strict Western style and in the light of what God said to me earlier I should instead be ready to embrace a much broader and more vibrant picture of God’s kingdom as His Spirit works in each culture and each person, bringing out their real character as they were created for God so that He can appreciate them and enjoy them in all the huge diversity of His creation.
As I sit back and imbibe what I have read and experienced this morning, the absolute joy of being part of this huge community in all its diversity washes over me. Thank you and praise You Lord for making me and bringing me into your family.