I’ve been reading the first several chapters of Acts over the past few weeks (read, I haven’t finished it for my Growth Group) and I never ceased to be challenged by this account of the normal Christian life. While reading Acts 2 a compelling phrase caught my eye,
And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:43-44 ESV)
While the NIV leaves us with the impression that this awe (fear) was the result of the church witnessing the apostles’ miracles, the ESV reverses that cause and effect. So the passage including vs. 42 in the ESV seems to flow through three phases: devotion–>a sense of awe–>manifestations of the Spirit specifically through miracles and radical generosity.
So, my question becomes, “Could it be that when we by attending to God as we find him in the word, his church and in prayer that we come to a sense of his enormity and holiness which is really the faith to live in Holy Spirit power?” It seems from reading this passage that where believers demonstrate no supernatural power that a sense of awe is lacking.
I’ve blogged previously that the entirety of God’s revelation to humanity can be summed up in the names of the tandem prophets Elijah (Yahweh is God) and Elisha (God saves). Just as Elijah came before Elisha so we must first at least assent to the fact that the one with whom we have to do is essentially other than we. His nature is so far above ours that we must use the word reserved for the very end of our ability to describe, “holy.” The reason the ministries of these two prophets occurred in succession rather than simultaneously is because each proposition about God tends to dilute the other. Yet we cannot allow that to happen. GK Chesterton once wrote that in God, red and white stand together in complete harmony with an abhorrence for pink. At the cross of Christ, the tandem statements did intersect as God’s wrath and saving love were administered through one person, Yeshua (Yahweh saves). As John Newton famously wrote: “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved!”
So today, I’m going to stop being frustrated or resentful over what I perceive as a lack of God’s work in his church. Instead, I’m going to devote myself to a pursuit of his presence and the sense of awe that must accompany it.