In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on servants—men and women alike.
Joel 2:29 (NLT)
A few weeks ago I discovered that a client of mine is a history buff like me. He introduced me to a podcast called Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and encouraged me to download the episode call “Prophets of Doom.” I’m about half-way through the 4 hour podcast and I’m hooked. Carlisle shares a fascinating true story set during the Protestant Reformation in the first part of the 16th century.
As background for the story, Carlisle spends about an hour doing an excellent summation of the social, religious and political climate of Western Europe during this period of time. The tectonic plates of history are shifting. For over a century the Bible had been the secret text of the rich and well educated. The masses were only told the parts that the religious and political leaders wanted them to hear. Manipulation of the Message to maintain wealth and power became commonplace. Then Martin Luther did something radical that would change history. He translated the Bible from the original Greek into common German language (at that point it was only hand copied in Latin). The new invention of the printing press was then used to mass produce it to be read by anyone who could read their everyday language. For the first time, every day people could read and interpret God’s Message for themselves.
One of the radical realities of Jesus’ teaching is that salvation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are poured out on everyone regardless of age, gender, social standing, or educational level. Anyone who believes is indwelled by the Holy Spirit and a part of the “Body of Christ.” As the people in 16th century Europe began reading the Bible for themselves, they began to realize this and it became a huge part of the change in tides that would shape history to this day.
I would love to jump on my soap box and explain how I believe the leaders of the modern church have continued to manipulate the system to ensure that only select individuals of their choosing get to participate in realizing and using their spiritual gifts, but that’s another blog post.
I thought about all of this as I read the ancient prophet Joel’s words. Even in Joel’s day the idea that women and common servants could and would receive God’s favor and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit was a radical notion. This morning I am reminded that throughout history man has manipulated God’s Message to further his own ends. Jesus carried out God’s plan to pour out love, salvation and spiritual blessing to anyone who will take the step to believe and follow. Even me. Even you.