Acts 2 reflection:
So much is going on in Acts 2 and again, I am preaching on this chapter this week and probably next, so finding a place to zoom in on is particularly challenging without simply repeating myself multiple places.
The basic outline of the chapter:
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell on and filled them.
(for more on what Pentecost was you can check out Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecost)
They were Jews from all over in Jerusalem for this celebration, and they all heard Peter and the others speaking in their own language. Peter gives a great sermon this day and calls people to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. 3000 people responded that day. And from there we get that this first gathering of people that followed Jesus was sharing life at deep level together, sharing what they had and God was adding to their number on a daily basis.
For this reflection, I would like to make a few comments on verses 13-16. When the commotion was heard, a crowd gathered at the place that the 12 were at when the Holy Spirit filled the place and them. They heard their language and the people’s response to this miraculous, unheard of happening was to say this,
“they must be drunk. (vs.13)
They must be drunk. A natural explanation to give words to the supernatural. And beyond that, it was a criticism of the work that the 12 were doing that day….no it was a criticism directed at the 12 that were being guided and lead by the Holy Spirit.
Criticism is defined as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
We all experience criticism in our lives. I have experienced some of this in the recent past. There seem to be two places criticism comes from:
The outside (as it did in this passage today)
The inside – from people you are associated with or are friends.
Neither of these is fun -, especially from the inside. Outsiders don’t know you nor your heart – you at times make the false assumption those that inside know your heart.
The solution to any time we find ourselves receiving criticism is found in this text from Acts 2.
Usually, our first reaction is to use logic – Peter said, “It is only 9 in the morning. We have not had time to get drunk.” Logic did not carry that day on Pentecost, and it doesn’t carry the day when criticism comes at you. Logic works well when both parties are not being driven by emotions. When criticism is shared, I usually feel it. It is a heart thing, more than a head thing. When the criticizer speaks, it usually comes with emotion, not exactly logic – at least those have been my experiences of late.
So when I respond with logic, or emotion-based logic, the argument is not won. The criticism does too magically go away.
But in the text, the solution is there.
Peter leaned into a few things:
1. He allowed himself to speak in a way that was lead by the Holy Spirit.
2. He was grounded in God’s word (see 14-41)
3. He stuck to the story. He knew the Good News of Jesus, and that was his defense.
He did not defend himself and talk of his credentials to be a minister of the Jesus.
He did not lash out at the criticism in a way that hurt the others.
He did not give up on those throwing shade his way. Peter stayed in the game and preached the Good News to them.
Beyond that, one more thing this story points me to in the midst of criticism is this: let the Holy Spirit examine the words spoken to you.
Recently in the multiple places that those on the inside spoke criticism to me, I sat with it.
I asked God to show me what I needed to pay attention to.
I asked God to show me, what my reactions to the criticism told me about things I needed to work on.
I asked God to show me what I needed to take forward me and allow to shape the way I lived my life and the way I lead.
I also asked God to show me what was not mine to wear. Sometimes criticism, especially from those close to us, has a sticky quality to it. It has a way of sticking to us. We do not need to wear it unless God needs us to wear it. If not, then when we do wear it then we are living out of line with God’s work/desire for us.
When we are able to move beyond criticism and continue to be led by the Spirit, we are able to help created and live in community at the deepest level – see Acts 2:42.
If you want to discuss this more, come to Blaze at 10 am on Sunday mornings at First Fire.
Strength and courage,