Paradox: Acts 5:12-16
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought those who were ill into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
There are a number of paradoxes in Christian belief. What is a paradox? ‘’At the most basic level, a paradox is a statement that is self contradictory because it often contains two statements that are both true, but in general, cannot both be true at the same time.’’ For our purposes, a paradox is an apparent contradiction. We find such a paradox at the heart of today’s passage (13, 14). People were staying away from this church where someone might die for living a lie (as we saw yesterday). At the same time, there was prolific growth. The church both repelled and magnetised at one and the same time. It was a paradoxical scenario.
There is something awesome about a revived church. The manifestation of God’s presence can be both fearful and glorious. Ronald Dunn wrote how when revival came to his home church, when he was a boy, he remembered standing on the steps, afraid to go in. There is such a thing as the ‘beauty of holiness’, but it can also be scary. It was said of C.T.Studd’s church in India, ‘That is not a church to go to unless a man means to be converted.’
I have heard it said that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Pentecost may be unrepeatable, but my prayer is that it’s rhythmic patterns will enter our lives and churches. We so need the renewing power of God’s Spirit.