I have been watching the NBA Finals this week: Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. The Heat made news last summer when they brought together superstars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. With such individual firepower the Heat was expected to walk away with the championship. But individual superstars do not make a team so right now Dallas is ahead in the series three games to two. Even though Miami has more talent, they are not playing together well, especially in the fourth quarter.
The Finals have me thinking about the TEAM of Pentecost. One of the amazing things about Pentecost is that the Holy Spirit came mightily to the assembled disciples as a team. The Spirit did not just “zap” Peter and have him preach. The tongues of fire were on the whole group, anointing them to be the Body of Christ together. In the Old Testament God’s Spirit anointed individuals like Moses or Elijah. Now the whole church has the power.
I think as Americans we struggle with the significance of community. My college history professor contrasted the colonies in New England with those of Virginia. The New England colonies were community-based with people living in town together. The Virginia colonists were scattered on large plantation where the individual made his way in the new land. After contrasting the two models my professor emphasized that the Virginia model became our American ideal of the rugged individualist who makes it through the world by him or herself.
Even in matters of faith we often disparage community. As Americans, we tend to focus on our individual faith and commitment, how our personal faith is a private matter of the heart. Organized religion is suspect for being “organized.”
Yet we all live in community and our faith is rarely a total individual experience. We learn from others: parents, teachers, pastors, and spiritual leaders. We read books written by others, sing songs written by others, and reflect upon questions asked by others. Our faith can be deeply personal, but needs a community to thrive and live. The Holy Spirit does not leave us isolated but calls us to trust, live and serve together as the Christ’s body in the world.
How are you living your faith in community with others?
Lord Jesus, keep the Holy Spirit active in us so we can be the Body of Christ together.