The Holy Spirit: Learning to Show with the Disconnected, Disfavored, Discounted
Donnell Wyche — May 30, 2021
Moving from Fear to Faith Takes Movement
Moving from fear to faith takes movement, and that’s exactly what we see in this kingdom encounter in the midst of daily prayer.
Let’s consider Acts 3:3,
3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Peter is putting into practice all that he had learned by listening to and watching Jesus as he invited the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. Peter, empowered by the Holy Spirit, now knows that the resurrection changes everything. Peter is aware that the world isn’t just what you can see, hear, and touch, that maybe there really is a kingdom that’s breaking into this ordinary world.
6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)
We often focus on the healing as the miracle, but I want to draw your attention to the movement instead. When someone is healed consider that everything surrounding and leading up to the healing is ordinary. When someone prays for healing, it’s just two ordinary people, doing what the people of God have done since the beginning, talking to God. The miracle of the healing happens when God shows up. We just have to first believe that the kingdom and the King are present. This places us in a posture of openness, allowing the Holy Spirit to disrupt our everyday with the power, presence, and mercy of the in-breaking Kingdom. The Hoy Spirit might nudge you, might prompt you to pause and pay attention, or the Spirit might speak directly to you.
A friend of mine puts it this way — we are called to respond to God, but in order to respond, we have to be open to the reality that God is at work, that God’s Kingdom is near. In Peter’s story in Acts 3, I think that’s what you see. Peter sees the needs, but also sees the Kingdom, instead of responding just to the needs of the man, Peter responds to God. As Peter responds to God, he knows through his experiences that there’s healing available in the Kingdom, so he moves. He sees the man in need, and he offers him what he has, faith in the Holy Spirit revealing the in-breaking of the kingdom of God.
We Are His Witnesses
Jesus’ goal for us is to become his witnesses.
7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
One of Jesus’ qualities was his empathy. Crowds followed him everywhere he went, and he had compassion for them. He responded with miraculous healing of those who were sick, he drove out demons, and he even raised people from the dead. He cared for the poor, outcast, and marginalized, and he fed the hungry.
The breath of God always animates our lives, helping us come alive. Remember after God shaped and formed the first humans, God then did something. God breathed into the breath of life into them.
7Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
As God’s witnesses, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, we create breathing room for those who need it.
Breathing room is the relief we need to draw life from intimate connection to God. Room to breathe in hope, peace, joy, purpose, love; room to breathe out sin, frustration, judgment, anger, bitterness, lust, apathy, shame, guilt.
I have an overly simplistic way of seeing this — outwardly focused people and churches see others, which creates breathing room for those who need it. This can happen as we serve in our communities because we see a need and we give ourselves and our time to address it. This can happen by inviting someone over for dinner. This can happen by watching a neighbor’s child. This happens every time we create space in our own lives to be interrupted, to be displaced, to sit with another, to listen. I don’t want to over-speak here because I don’t want to limit the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to create breathing room for others. I want us to live as people who are open. Open-handed in the presence of a Spirit that will invite us to be creative and faithful in revealing grace and mercy to others, which will create breathing room for the disconnected to connect, for the disfavored to find favor, and for the discounted to count.
God, who is invisible, wants to make his real presence tangible and that happens through his people who are being sent. As we are sent out as witnesses, we bear witness to God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love as we practice the one anothers: love one another, be kind to one another, forgive one another, suffer one another, and serve one another.
This creates space for people to present to themselves and God. This creates space for questions, allowing people to discover and experience the presence of God. And all of this has the ability to create space for people to be transformed, restored, and renewed by Jesus.
This is breathing room in a nutshell: people cut off from every source of life, disconnected, disfavored, and discounted, locked in a narrative that says, “I am alone,” when, suddenly, they find that things are different than they were just moments ago, and God is there with them, breathing new life into them, if only they will receive it. This is the work that people of God when we create space for others, when we are outwardly focused revealing grace, mercy, forgiveness, and welcome.
Creating breathing room means joining with Jesus in revealing grace through Spirit-empowered expressions of peace, Spirit-empowered promise of participation in resurrection life, and the Spirit-empowered call to kingdom ministry.
As the church we have gifts of grace that we get to give to those who need them. I want to share three gifts of grace that create breathing room:
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19-22)
The first gift of grace that creates breathing room: Jesus’ presence, announcing peace. There is nothing to fear as we aim to create breathing room. When we partner with Jesus, we will receive his presence and with his presence comes his peace.
The second gift of grace that creates breathing room is the promise of participation in resurrection life. After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. If we live within the kingdom reality of eternal life we change the culture.
The third gift of grace that creates breathing room: Jesus’ call to his ministry.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
This is our heritage and our legacy, in the Vineyard we have an expectation that everyone gets to play, everyone gets to participate in kingdom ministry. We find our purpose and our place when we are called and released in ministry. The missional community creates space for us to be witnesses to God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Finally, these gifts of grace which create breathing room, makes space for us to receive the Holy Spirit. And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…” It is with God’s active presence in our lives are we able to anything of value. When we are Spirit Empowered we welcome the kingdom and the reality of the King.
When we gather each week and give of our time, energy, and resources to create a welcoming environment for those God is calling, we become what were intended to be, communities of hope (answering the despairing culture) with love and grace of God. When we take our active selves and walk into the heart of our communities we bear the image of Jesus. His humble, gentle, open-handed heart to the those who need to hear his message of hope most.
When we love,
when we pray,
when we care,
we give hope,
we give purpose.
We create room for those who need it.