Pentecost - 5.31.2015
An ongoing theme of life is the reality of division, the division between the church and the division between us and God. We human beings constantly put up walls, strongholds and towers and divide ourselves from the source of goodness and eternity. We thrive on sin, we thrive on wickedness and we convince ourselves that the lives we live are in accordance with God. I can honestly say the individuals that I see farthest away from the will of God are fellow Christians who live lives of lies and deceit. The hypocrites and bigots that span the church far outnumber the godly and holy. It is true, the ones that know who God is and have lived lives in accordance to God, but turn a blind eye to sin and death are the individuals who will be the most to owe on judgment day. But God always corrects our sins and our downfalls with grace and goodness.
Nimrod was the great grandson of Noah after the flood. The scriptures in the book of Genesis describe him as a mighty hunter, and a powerful individual that was renowned during his time. During Nimrod’s reign, extra-biblical sources tell that he had ordered a structure to be built, a tower that could reach heaven and connect the earth with God. It is said that man’s pride was the soul drive for this action and that they wanted to gain access to heaven by any means. To create and accomplish building such a massive and stupendous structure would take coordination of all the workers present. There had to be a means of communication to relay the plans to build the structure.
Whatever the case may be, while during the construction, God came down to see what they were doing and became frustrated with the fact that the tower was being pridefully built and in honor of man reaching the Heavens - God's throne. He saw that their unity was being used for mischief, not for holiness. They wanted to reach heaven through a human means, through a path that was not given by God.
So God struck the populous and gave everyone a different language and dialect. Now that people could not speak the same words, construction of the tower ceased. With no communication, no way to interpret the other's tongue, they could not accomplish the goal set for by Nimrod. From that time on, the word Babel was used for the tower.
I know that I have written about division before, but it bears need of continual visitation. We are divided. Christians between Christians, Christians between Muslims, Americans against Americans, the heterosexual versus the homosexual, the list goes on and on. But, the factor that I preach most about is the division we have among our own church. We, Orthodox, cannot even see the pain the division is causing. The argument between old and new calendars, the division between how the liturgy is celebrated, the division with the pride and arrogance of the leaders of our church strip away the heart of our faith. We should be able to attend any church at any time and see the identical service. We should see uniformity, we should be able to see a single army that fight against the world.
But no, we have division because we do not want to hurt this nor that person, nor offend these groups of people because of their customs, but more because of their habits. We all should be willing to bend for the betterment of the church. I am not speaking of bending our will for the sanctity of our beliefs; I speak to the fact that division brings ruin.
That division comes from a lack of communication. Everything that goes badly falls under some sort of miscommunication. Wars come because a few people cannot see eye to eye on certain things, schisms come because one side or the other will not listen to the other's viewpoint and marriages fall apart because one or both spouses are not willing to hear what the other says. And the root of these problems is usually pride.
Human selfishness and pride throughout history has brought division to the human race, and God constantly brings unity. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, they are given unity. When they began to speak, every man heard their own native language. Everyone heard what they needed to fulfill the mission of Christ. God corrected the sins of man that was brought during the construction of the Tower of Babel. Everyone spread out through the world not knowing the words the other was saying, and now the Holy Spirit brought the people the revelation of God in a way that all could understand.
God was present throughout history, but not like He was when Christ came into the world and dwelled with us. And even when Christ ascended, He promised that we would never be alone, He promised the comforter, and that the Holy Spirit would fill us and dwell among us.
That feeling within us that tells us when we are doing wrong, that something in the back of our mind that warns us, and that burning within our heart that we get when we must stand up for our faith—that is the Holy Spirit, that is the gift of God.
It is the Holy Spirit that dwells among us and fills us to have the power of God. It is the Holy Spirit that brings us conviction to change our hearts, to change our minds and to repent. The Holy Spirit is the strength that we have to endure persecution and suffering. Without the Holy Spirit we would not have a connection with God, we would not have the grace to live lives according to holiness and wholeness. We often pray, and give the praise to Christ, but the Holy Spirit is Christ. The Trinity is one, and one cannot be without the other.
The Holy Spirit is the one who allowed the saints to have the courage to face death knowing that it would not end there. Life was only beginning for those who died in the faith. Slowly the Holy Spirit is being pushed aside for the world.
It is my belief that all people have the Holy Spirit within them; all humans were formed and fashioned after the image of God. And it is that small spark within that allows them to receive the Spirit of God, it allows them to hear the truth and to have that change of heart. It is up to us to fan the flames, to turn that spark into a roaring fire.
However, the problem lies with the disunity of our faiths, our churches and our people. Many are lost and are turned off from religion for what another human being has done. But, if we truly believe, we must allow the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in every recess of our body. We must allow him to speak to us, not suppressing the flame that needs to be fed to burn out the evil that dwells with all of us.
Allowing the Holy Spirit to flow within us allows us the blessing given us on Pentecost. The promise that Christ gave was that we would never be alone; we would never have live this life without access to God. When Christ came our lives were forever changed, our relationship with our God became more personal and more intimate. We have direct access to our God, we have the Holy Spirit flowing freely through us and in our churches.
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