How can you not be amazed at the change in St. Peter at that first Pentecost? Here was the man who had only just recently denied Christ three times, preaching about Jesus in public to thousands of people in Jerusalem. Did Peter get tongue-tied while speaking that day? Did he sound a little bit nervous? Was he wondering if others might thinking “What a hypocrite! Here he is speaking about this Jesus when only recently he was denying him! What is with this guy?”
The Worst Man for the Job
Obviously, Peter was chosen by Jesus to preach that day because He could not find anyone worse for the job. The worst person from a human perspective to choose for preaching that day would be the one who had denied Him at His time of need. But in God’s eyes, Peter was just the one to choose to do His will the best way to demonstrate His love, mercy, and power.
God can take someone who, in the eyes of man, seems completely unqualified and use that individual to do His will. I am always amazed and humbled that God gives such undeserving grace and power to individuals so that they can accomplish great things in His name.
This summer I had the privilege to attend the Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. The first evening of the conference Alex Jones, a clergy convert, gave an inspiring and exciting speech on spiritual warfare. He discussed how the Spirit led him into the Catholic Church. He spoke of how it was revealed to him by God that the Church that received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday was not his Protestant Pentecostal denomination, but the Catholic Church.
The Fullness of the Pentecostal Church
By receiving the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, you and I belong to the fullness of the Pentecostal Church on earth the Catholic Church. Whether you know it or not, you have been given the grace and power to share the gospel with others. While attending the Defending the Faith Conference, I heard some in the audience lament: “I wish that I could defend the faith as well as these speakers can.”
Are you one of those who feel inadequate in your ability to share the faith with others? Have you let this fear stop you from sharing the faith?
As someone who has spoken about God at Christian conferences and in other venues, I have a confession to make. Whenever it comes to speaking about God and His teachings, I am always tongue-tied and do a wholly inadequate job. Think about it. How can mere finite words, no matter how well they might roll off the tongue of an accomplished speaker, really describe God adequately? Many times when I speak I apologize for the inadequacy of my words for all human words are inadequate.
But examine closely what happened at the first Pentecost: “At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them [the disciples] speaking in his own language” (Acts 1:6).
Open Your Mouth and God Will Speak
Notice how each person in the crowd that first Pentecost heard what the disciples had to say in their own language. It does not say that it was the eloquence of Peter and the other disciples that converted the crowds. What impressed them was that they heard the message of God in their own language. God used the disciples’ meager descriptions of His love and mercy and turned them into the beautiful seeds of His truth in the very language that those lost souls in Jerusalem needed to hear that day.
He does the same with our paltry words too. God takes our inadequate words about His great love and mercy and He uses them so that lost souls will hear in their own language His plea for them to come home. If you agree to let God use you in this manner, you will experience the power of Pentecost more deeply in your life and see its power in changing the lives of others.
Once, when I was going from door to door as a Jehovah’s Witness, a Christian gentleman allowed God to use his words to plant a seed of truth in my heart. This man was not an eloquent speaker. In fact, he even said to me, in his strong country accent, that he was “no Bible scholar.” However, when I asked him if he wanted to live forever in paradise on earth, he told me no. When I asked why, he answered that when he died he knew that he was going to heaven to be with Jesus and that that was a better hope to have than living forever in paradise on earth. That seed he planted in my heart through the help of the Holy Spirit bothered me for years. God took those words that man said and made them to be the very language my lost soul needed and He called me to Himself. Those inadequate words, spoken by a simple man, precipitated a journey of 20 years that finally led me into the Church that was born on Pentecost the Catholic Church.
© Copyright 2004 Catholic Exchange
Jeffery Schwehm is a former member of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Headquarters Staff in Brooklyn, New York and a former Lutheran. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and is a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Kohler, Wisconsin.