Whats your spirit? (Acts 2:1-21 OR some thoughts on Pentecost)

There are two spirits in this world from which to choose from.

One is a spirit of fear. Fear makes people do a lot of crazy things. Some philosophers and psychiatrists argue that everything human beings do is out of a fear of death. At its worst, fear leads to violence, oppression, and does little to stop the march of death. If anything, fear encourages death and destruction wherever it goes. Fear focuses on the unknown. The unchangeable. "What if?" is asked and our minds run rampant with endless possibilities of our inevitable end.  At its best, we know fear for a good reason - it can be a strong motivator. It protects us! Fear of fire and electricity keep us from touching things we shouldn't touch.  Fear can bring caution.  And caution can be a good thing, when appropriate.

But often, fear is not appropriate.  My main problem with fear is that when we fear what we know, it can stop us from being courageous, free, or hateful sometimes.  When we fear what we do not know, we don't react to reality anymore, we react to simple non-existent possibilities.

Fear can take you far in life.

Some theologians will even tell you that fear is what God deserves. Fear of the Lord might be the beginning of wisdom, but it sure ain't the end of it. Because there is something stronger than fear - something that is a better motivator and protector.  There is something that can take you farther than fear.

The other is a spirit of adoption.

Think about it.  When you realize how much someone loves you it enables you to be yourself.  It actually encourages you to be MORE yourself and to improve yourself into the ideals of those who love you.  I've spoken before about the progression from apathy/hate/love and fear keeps people at arms length.  But adoption loves.  Not because of who YOU are, but because who HE is.

Fear vs. adoption.  Dark vs. light.  Evil vs. Goodness.

This Pentecost if you go to church, you will hear about a Spirit that is unafraid.  A Spirit of Adoption - the Holy Spirit.  Of course, I'm referencing both Acts 2:1-21 and also Romans 8:14-16.  Here is the Romans passage (in the NRSV, which I love):
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.  When we cry, "Abba!  Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
BOOM!  You are not God's slave and you never will be.  Because you have been adopted.  See the family connotations?  And btw, "Abba" could loosely be translated into "Daddy" - a term of intimacy not shared with just anyone.  The early church stayed behind closed doors because they were scared.  It is into this terror of the unknown that God breaths a new wind.

I can't emphasize enough that as Christians we must act out of a spirit of adoption.  When we do, our hearts intertwine with God's heart.

Fear says you are a nobody.  Adoption says you are someone.

Fear says you are worthless.  Adoption says you are worth more than you could possibly imagine.

Fear says people cannot be trusted.  Adoption says you should be trustworthy because you've been entrusted with much.

Fear says the unknown should be avoided.  Adoption says the unknown can't hurt you (ultimately).

Fear says we should attack North Korea first.  Adoption says there is always a chance for redemption and forgiveness because we've been shown redemption and forgiveness.

Fear says those [insert scary uncontrollable enemy] will be the end of us.  Adoption says they may change us, but our identity is wrapped up in someone great than our enemy.

Fear says they are out to get us.  Adoption says we should be out to get them!

Fear says the United Methodist Church will decline and disappear.  Adoption says we aren't finished bringing people closer to Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

Fear says we are best left going our separate ways.  Adoption says there is another way... a path where we are all children of God and belong to the same family.

Fear says death will get you.  Adoption says life already has you.

Its not that adoption doesn't share Fear's concern for caution or right living, it just holds fear in check.

You know why generations of Americans laugh at Christianity?  Because Christians everywhere speak/act more out of fear than they do out of adoption.  And fear is laughable.  Adoption is serious.

Believe me, following Jesus is scary!  Its only scary for those who don't know they can belong.  But its a lot better than the alternative.

My hope is that you will see moments in your life when you can choose...

You can choose between a spirit of fear or a spirit of adoption.  Every choice you make speaks either out of a fear of darkness or an appreciation for the light you are in.