All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:4, Recommend reading the full text, Acts 2:1-13)
Today we are living in an era of miscommunication. Miscommunication causes a lot of problems. For example, our bodies can be healthy only when blood flows well. If there is no blood flow in any one place, our bodies will have problems. Also, if there is miscommunication between husband and wife, parents and children, or in the church community, problems arise, and the communities become sick. Likewise, miscommunication with God makes our spirit sick.
Miscommunication is the result of human sin. In the Tower of Babel context, we can see that miscommunication results from our sin and arrogance. After the great flood, Noah’s descendants settled on a plain in Shinar. Their construction techniques developed day by day. Genesis 11:4 says, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” To build a tower to the sky means to challenge God. God saw humans unite and become arrogant by speaking the same language (Genesis 11:6). Thus, God confused human language so humans could not understand each other (Genesis 11:7).
There is a way to overcome miscommunication and move on to the era of communication. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples not to leave Jerusalem but wait for the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). When the day of Pentecost came, 120 disciples and followers gathered in Mark’s upper room and prayed earnestly with one heart. Then suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house. The full grace of the Holy Spirit came upon everyone who was there. When the Holy Spirit descended upon them, an amazing miracle occurred. “They began to speak in languages they had not known before. The Spirit gave them the ability to do this.” (Acts 2:4)
The Holy Spirit, our helper, helps us overcome miscommunication and communicate meaningfully. Where the Holy Spirit comes, everyone communicates and connects with each other. The Holy Spirit, who enables communication, wants us to cut off our miscommunication and move on to a life of communication. The Holy Spirit as communicating power indwells in all created beings, not just humans but all nonhuman creatures, to enable us to communicate. Moreover, nonhuman creatures communicate not only with each other but also with human beings and with God.
Mission as communication is a witness to the life-changing power of the Spirit of God. Therefore, the mission is always interlinked with communication. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who makes us communicate and witness to life-flourishing communities, we should take the lead in restoring a communicating society and proclaiming and living out God’s justice where creation groans.
God of Life, we pray that the Holy Spirit may enable us with a great power of mission and communication. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Young-Cheol Cheon, Council for World Mission