By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at how the Holy Spirit had inspired a group of disciples to be his witnesses some two thousand years ago. Fascinating stories of miracles, supernatural interventions as well as ordinary incidents of obedience and submission. Clearly, the kingdom of God expanded, and the gospel spread, despite the tumultuous circumstances. God’s people were persecuted, yet they brought the gospel wherever they went, including places they were very uncomfortable in, like Samaria for the Jews. That was the key, wasn’t it? Ordinary people who “simply” brought their faith along wherever they went. Ordinary people doing extraordinary stuff, because they were obedient to the Holy Spirit’s bidding and direction, even when out of their comfort zone.
Does the Holy Spirit work today? Of course, the circumstances we live in today are quite different from the times of Acts. Nonetheless, I believe we serve the same Holy Spirit. The Spirit who dwells in us today is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and filled the disciples who did mighty works. He is the same Spirit who granted Stephen the peace to face martyrdom unfazed. So yes, the Holy Spirit can and still work in amazing ways today, in your life and mine… but only if we are willing to step out!
The question then is whether we “bring” the Spirit wherever we go? Of course, the Spirit who indwells us does not leave us, so are we mindful to seek his guidance in our daily lives? Are you aware that he wants to direct your conduct, your conversations and your concerns? When was the last time you felt the tugging on your heart to do something good and kind, but hesitated because of the perceived price you must pay? Or that occasion when you were challenged to try and do something different and unusual, only to chicken out because you felt so uncomfortable? Were those not the Spirit’s prompting? What would have happened if you had heeded these promptings? Only God knows! Conversely, recall the last time you did step out of your comfort zone? What happened as a result? Did you experience some amazing outcomes? I hope you did.
As a church, while there were many missed opportunities, there were also occasions when by the grace of God, some amazing things happened because we did step out. But what if we did not?
What if we did not step out to move the Youth Service to Saturday? We might still be trying to scramble for pockets of time and space on a crowded Sunday morning?
What if we did not step out to start a Saturday service because many people were not so keen on worshipping on a non-Sunday? We would have missed the vibrant Saturday congregation we have today.
What if we did not renovate The Well, because some felt uncomfortable with a café in the church? Well…
What if we did not start the Alpha course because we faced some resistance from some long-time members? We would have missed the many people who were saved since then.
What if we did not embrace the church-planting work in Nepal when the opportunity arose? We would certainly miss the chance to see so many Nepali churches planted and growing today.
What if the group of English-speaking worshippers did not step out into the unknown to start the Chinese service? Certainly, the church would have been much deprived!
What if our pioneers did not step out in faith to raise the funds to build and move to CBC in 1985? Still wandering?
Personally, I wondered too: What if I did not heed the Lord’s call to quit my banking job to serve him full-time vocationally some 25 years ago? I may have been richer financially, but a lot poorer spiritually. I would certainly not have the front row seat to see what God has been doing in our church in the past 25 years, experiences that money could not buy, but has become such an important part of my life.
Dear friends, as we continue with the study of Acts, are you ready to step out of your comfort zone, and let the Spirit direct you? To do the unusual, to try the untested, not out of narcissism or a bragging-rights bucket list, but a genuine desire to follow where and what the Spirit is leading, to be his witnesses wherever he brings you?
Let’s remember that the church in Acts thrived because ordinary disciples of Christ, went and did what the Spirit instructed. I believe that our church can thrive too if we have the same mind and heart. Pray for me, for the leaders and for all of us – to be strong and courageous – to step out of our comfort zone and let the Spirit direct us.