And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
John 1:33 KJV
I write on a glorious sunny Pentecost. I write on the day after a wedding that will mark history in the monarchy and the United Kingdom.
What has struck me since this demonstration of the unifying threads of both British and American spirituality and culture is the multiplicity of opinion and perspective. It gives me a glimpse of the Upper Room filled with 120 people all with their different characters and opinions. Their context of life before being called will filter through to be an explosive mix.
However with the glorious resurrection and His Ascension it seems personality and opinion has taken second place. They have had the trauma of crucifixion and the shame of it. The death knell to 3 years of great teaching and great miracles. Then suddenly He is taken and subject to the most brutal of punishments and finally death on a cross.
Now picture the scene of the Upper Room. A great company for 10 days in continual waiting. They do not know what they are waiting for.
The steady influx of pilgrims into Jerusalem as the Feast of Firstfruits was upon them all. Then suddenly a wind began to blow. Tongues of Fire began to rest upon each 120 people there. This culminated in several languages begin to spring forth so much so that the crowds below heard each speak in his native language.
What I desire to convey is that the manifestation of Fire is what is needed on God’s Church today. This Outpouring of the Holy Spirit caused an invisible Temple to be instituted to replace the Temple of Jerusalem. Whilst all would make the journey Jesus wanted, desired and poured out His Spirit that we all turn into the Temple.
The required Temple design and utensils are all explained in Leviticus and Exodus. All Holy things had to pass through the fire. They would be made Holy by the fire. They would be sanctified and set apart because of the fire.
The explosion of spiritual life amazed the crowd and the message of Peter cut the multitude to heart and in one day 3000 souls came into knowledge of the Messiah via the Fire of the Holy Spirit.
What we see is as a result Acts of the Apostles relates that they were of one mind and soul. Whilst we can focus on the power of the Holy Spirit there can be no demonstration without the people’s be unified through one baptism of fire. The sense of community is directly correlated to the signs and wonders of the Apostles and the equality of provision. No-one had need. Injustice and inequality ceased to exist.
This unifying Baptism is what is needed today because if we are to imagine the intensity of the state of heart due to the Baptism in the Spirit and fire we can see that it not only has an effect in spiritual terms but also in the practical.
One thing disturbs me today is how fragmented we have become. We carry our own banners and our theology but we are transferring our fragmentation into society as society perceives our lack of Fire and love. Our lack of efficacy and unity. Our lack of practicality from renewed spirituality. The void remains that what fills it is humanism in its various forms.
The Fire Baptism alluded to in Luke makes us a unifying people who heal the cities. Yesterday hearing the Reverend Michael Curry speak at the Royal Wedding we saw the same passion and fire that leaves us to make a radical self evaluation and in the same moment we are cut to heart!
I do not care that he is an Episcopalian, because my vision of Jesus surpasses my denominational persuasion. We recognise that the Holy Spirit can choose to speak through who He will at any given moment.
Just as Peter presented the Glorified Christ and the multitude were laid bare and repented and all partook of the same Baptism in the Spirit a unifying community came into being. A organism sprung into life which brought sustenance and great healing. Peter’s shadow would fall and healing would also manifest in the shadow to whom would momentarily fall into the shadow.
My own heart is stirred as I meditated since Friday about fire. The Fire presented by the Rev. Curry was so cleverly crafted as being the technological bedrock as being harnessed in our cars and planes. He transports fire into love through the Song of Solomon.
The message has had an impact be cause all of us whether believer or not were put into the same crucible.
I believe that the Baptism of the Spirit and Fire is a Baptism of Love. We are immersed into God Himself.
I find what we call “Church” today falls far short, I myself fall short. So what we must all do is ask for the elusive Baptism of Fire!
When Jesus speaks to the Church in Ephesus he connects their Love to the Lampstand. Jesus is emphatic that they had become lukewarm paying lip service to life. Their love for God had cooled and as a result so brotherly love and unity also fell apart. The Lampstand is a lamp of Fire. The Fire being the love for God and the love from God. The oil feeding to the lamp and it gives its light. It is constant. May we receive this constant oil so that we may be aflame!
Today we have over 40 thousand separate denominations whom all preach the same Jesus, the same Bible yet in application of worship, service, structure, all different. The barriers seem so high that no human can see them disappear naturally. This reality says the Baptism of Fire must come again so that human tradition fall away through the fire of love!
So today I note that various opinions will abound concerning the current events. Churches will have their services as usual. However as it is Pentecost we must echo the words of Pope John XXIII in 1962 that “This be a new Pentecost for the Church”.
The challenge today: are we ready to seek for the Holy Spirit and Fire?
JOHN answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
Luke 3:16 KJV
The challenge is there!
The Voice in the Wilderness makes way for a new Temple in His People so in the Fire they will love and unify so that healing come.