“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”” – Acts 2:11b-12
Imagine yourself amidst the crowd of Galileans staying in Jerusalem that day. Jerusalem is swarming with God-fearing Jews from across the known world and you are feeling the energy in the city. The Jews are gathering for their traditional fe”stival of Firstfruits. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of this festival but are mesmerized by how this one day has gathered people from every nation.
As you’re enjoying the sights and taking in the wonders of this festival, all of a sudden, something unusual starts to happen. The crowd bursts into laughter and tears start flowing. The sound of this massive crowd causes an uproar. You can see them. People of differing colors and ethnicities are connecting in ways you didn’t think were possible. All because they were speaking in each other’s native language. You were among a crowd of diverse people, but that day you truly felt “with” them.
No wonder the Scripture notes how the crowd was amazed and perplexed – wondering what all this means. All separation that once existed from language barriers was gone, in the blink of an eye.
This is precisely what the Spirit of God does. He breaks down barriers so he can be “with” his people and his people can be “with” one another. God is sometimes called Immanuel, “God with us”. Yet, there are three Greek words for “with” in the New Testament – meta, para, and en. Over the next few days, we will explore the nuances of all three.
Today’s word for “with” is meta, meaning together or among. Think about how many barriers we create between people – divisions of race, gender, political positions, socio-economic status, etc.. Truth is: humans create division but God’s presence includes. God’s Spirit brings humans together. Separations among us cease to exist when God’s presence enters the room. Find at least one person today with whom you can break down barriers because you walk with the Spirit. Ask God what creative actions you might take which would allow for the Spirit to be “with” or among your relationships today.