In the Disney classic Finding Nemo we meet a group of greedy seagulls who chant “MINE! MINE!” as they forage for food. While fish and sea life are definitely their preferred diet, seagulls will also feast on human food, garbage, and refuse. Have you ever watched two seagulls tussle over a French fry in a fast food parking lot? The Disney spin that a seagull will claim anything they see as “mine” is not far from the mark. And as someone who lives near the beach, can I please make a request? DON’T FEED THE SEAGULLS. You are contributing to their behavior!
When I read today’s passage, I wondered if the early Christ-followers didn’t have a similar perspective. Jews who understood all the messianic prophecies and realized that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of all they had waited for were probably quite startled to learn that Jesus came to save everyone, including the gentiles:
Acts 10 (The Message)
44-46 No sooner were these words out of Peter’s mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn’t believe it, couldn’t believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on “outsider” non-Jews, but there it was—they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God.
The proof was in the pudding. The outsiders spoke in the tongue of the Holy Spirit, a unifying voice that proclaimed that what once was “mine” is now for everyone. The outsiders have been let in.
46-48 Then Peter said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” Hearing no objections, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.
With the evidence of the universality of Christ right in front of them, they acted in one accord to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit and confirm it with baptism in the name of Jesus. The “mine” became “ours.”
If only we could adopt that same perspective! Our bitter division, our denominationalism, our thinking that “my doctrine is better than your doctrine”…all of this surely grieves the Holy Spirit, who calls us to be one in Christ.
One body. One voice. One heart.
A quote that is attributed to many sources including John Wesley helps us to keep the main thing the main thing: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. And charity in all things.” If we live in a time when we can’t agree on the essentials or the non-essentials, let us at least agree on charity in all things.*
This passage points to the main thing. The Holy Spirit is the transforming power of God and will come upon whomever God chooses to come upon. The outward and visible sign of this is found in baptism, which is a confirmation of the work that God has already done. Jesus instructs us to go into the world and teach and baptize in his name. We can all agree on this.
In the kingdom of God there is no mine or yours…only ours. Go and share him with someone today.
*Read more about this quote here.