By Bill Barkman
We can only say we are a movement of the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit is moving through us. Chapters one and two of Acts reveal markers that are deeper and broader than the people, issues, and fears to which we react. As we read about the working of Jesus’ Holy Spirit in the early disciples, there is both a visible preparation for, as well as filling of, the Holy Spirit. The filling will always follow the heart’s preparation.
The disciples didn’t know what to expect, and their future was unclear. Jesus had died, risen, and ascended. All they had were specific directions for the moment. We are in a similar position. Jesus seems distant. Our numbers seem insignificant. We cannot clearly discern the future. But the directions are sufficient for the moment of preparation.
The Holy Spirit’s movement is evidenced in the working of obedience, waiting and praying together among the disciples. There was at work in them a desire to see the promise of the Holy Spirit fulfilled, not the apocalyptic desire of their hearts. Waiting, praying, and focusing on God’s next move was more important than Jesus’ future return or their escape from the community’s hostility.
The Holy Spirit’s movement is evidenced in the gifting of himself in a way that connected with the national memory of their escape from Egypt. A mighty wind separated the waters that blocked their future and a pillar of fire separated them from the slavery of their old life.
The Holy Spirit’s movement is evidenced in the natural movement of disciples from kneeling to speaking and from praying to proclamation. Whether they were near the temple or near the market place, they got up and moved out without fear.
The Holy Spirit’s movement is evidenced in the ability of the disciples to tell the nations about Jesus in ways that were clearly understood by the hearers. The Holy Spirit empowered these people to tell the message of Jesus with clarity and certainty. The Holy Spirit empowers both the speaker and the hearer.
The Holy Spirit’s movement is evidenced by the response of the people. He demonstrated more than the power of his presence. He demonstrated drawing-power that not only brought the disciples together but also drew the multitudes together at the right time.
These five signs of the Holy Spirit can transform our personal and congregational life. We can draw together in prayer even while we face an obscured future. We can wait on the Holy Spirit to fill us even as we do what we have to do. When he immerses us in Jesus, we will know it. We will get out of our chapels and run to our communities with a message of Jesus filled with clarity and conviction. And we may find the Holy Spirit drawing the multitudes to us.
Finally, as we go we will experience this evidence of the Holy Spirit’s movement among us. We will stand in unity as the eleven did with Peter. We will stand in unity with those who do the heavy lifting of visioning, leading, and guiding.