Bercy Mundedi, director of the Kalonda Bible Institute, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was one of the first three women to be ordained by Communauté Mennonite au Congo (Mennonite Church of Congo). Here she describes the Pentecost story in the present tense for today's church.
The Lord Jesus Christ, having accomplished his teaching ministry, suffered on the cross. Now, he is risen from the dead and is living among his disciples. He is giving them instructions to wait for the Holy Spirit's arrival.
"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised," Jesus tells them in Acts 1:4 (NIV). He also says, "[G]o and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
This means that, without guidance from God's spirit, our churches cannot preach the gospel.
Pentecost is a gift from God
The Holy Spirit, which was poured out on that first Pentecost day, was a gift from God. This gift was not something the disciples asked for. Like the gift of Jesus coming to live among us in the world, the Holy Spirit was a gift of pure grace, conceived in God's heart.
Pentecost empowers us for God's work
Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit to implant God's self into the human character, making redemption effective and powerful. It is God coming as an administrator, so that Christ's ministry in the world can be lived out in people's lives, as they abandon themselves to God's control. Those who submit to God's power are then, by the Holy Spirit who lives in them, able to carry out God's will.
Pentecost completely changes the disciples' position. At the instant when the Holy Spirit descends on them, the 120 disciples and apostles cease being simple followers of the Jewish Messiah. They become members of the body of the resurrected Lord!
The same transformation happens in the church today. Its members cease being feeble companions of Christ and receive power to create new relationships between all people and Jesus. This means members of Christ's body must be united and obedient to God's will in this world of spiritual shadows. According to 2 Corinthians 4:6, God's light shines in our hearts to give us the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.
The mandate to be filled with the spirit (Ephesians 5:18) is addressed to all Christian believers. If we ignore this, we risk depriving ourselves of a fruitful and joy-filled life.
Pentecost transforms people
Among those in the upper room were 12 people who had been rivals and skeptics. Afterwards, those who had argued among themselves were of one heart and one soul. Oh, what grace when the spirit of unity conquers the spirit of division! Selfishness, pride, hate and personal egos are all buried and stay in Jesus' tomb!
The spirit of Pentecost fills all the men, women, rich and poor, Jews and non-Jews and a new era is born in the upper room. The house trembles! Flames of fire and foreign languages show that the spirit of God is entering humanity to transform us, both in this instant and into the future.
The Holy Spirit transforms men and women in the image of God. People who were foolish yesterday become diplomatic and wise. Personal preoccupations fall away, so that life now has only one goal: to glorify the Crucified One through saving souls.
The miracle, among the audience of 3,000, who hadn't been groomed by Jesus for that moment, is equally spectacular (Acts 2:41). In the morning, they were bewildered and mocking. By nightfall, they are baptized and transformed into new creatures who love others with the love God has poured out on them.
Pentecost's power still fuels the church today
Throughout the ages, the power of Pentecost hasn't faded. The first sign of the fullness of the Holy Spirit are the songs of praise that fill our hearts (Ephesians 5:19), and we can't keep ourselves from singing.
The second sign is that we thank God for everything (Ephesians 5:20). We see God in every situation in which we find ourselves. This precious gratitude walks hand-in-hand with the fullness of the Holy Spirit, because God's presence fills the valleys, not the mountains of our lives. Thankfulness breaks our pride, our doubts and our murmuring against God and helps us submit to God.
The third sign is mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21), as we honor each other. Strong members of Christ's body love and look out for their weaker brothers and sisters, out of reverence for Christ.
The spirit of Pentecost is a creative power that comes from God to embolden the church to do God's work. It is a light to guide our steps and the source of a redeemed and unified world. This power is most perfectly seen in agape love that gives without expecting anything in return.
The spirit of Pentecost empowers each of us to speak God's word, declaring all the marvels of the Lord!